The lowdown on becoming a consultant

Looking for stats and information about consulting? Our info graphic about becoming a consultant may just do the trick.

Consulting – a growing venture

Check out our infographic on the latest consulting stats

Hourly rate calculator

Wondering how much you earn per hour or what to use as a base rate comparison for a consulting or freelance fee? Start here.

Lies, damn lies & #bced statistics

The BC teachers’ strike has social media abuzz with insights. Today, The Vancouver Sun noted that Google searches for “private schools” in BC are up since the strike started. However, as a marketing consultant, I wanted to check a hunch. And my hunch is right.

The Sun notes that private school searches are up three times what they were before the strike. This set off my marketing consultant spidey senses. After all, you have parents assessing their family’s plans for the coming year. May and June seem like times I’d expect people to be shopping around for private school. So I pulled up stats in Google Trends, just like the Sun, but expanded them for a view of the past nine years, the most it would give me.

Searches for private schools have been on a downward trend since 2005 in BC, although there are recurring peaks and valleys. There were 2 fewer searches for “private schools” this past May than the year before.

So, what looks like a short term trend – an increase in the past 3 weeks – doesn’t look like an increase when put against historical data.

I like Chad Skelton’s usual columns in The Vancouver Sun and I’m not here to knock him. But I do want to draw attention to what happens when we only look at part of the research for a market. In fact, if I had a little more time and wasn’t busy finishing off some financials, I’d see if I could triangulate the data through other search engines. related keywords and more.

Consulting market research matters. In this case, the research was for a story. But stats matter in business, government and more. An entrepreneur might have spotted this seeming trend and considered ways to take advantage of it. However, with the expanded research, we can see that interest in private schools has fallen over several years and looks somewhat steady now, with seasonal fluctuation – usually at the start and end of the school year. So, if you’re using market research to back up decisions for your organization, make sure you get the full story.

…unless you’re trying for link bait, which is “a whole nother” story.

Andréa Coutu, a Vancouver marketing consultant, lives and works in Vancouver, BC. She is the author of several business books, including Consulting Fees, Discover Your Inner Consultant and the Consulting Start-up Course, available here and on Amazon. Andréa Coutu has taught for UBC and SFU and has been interviewed by Entrepreneur, CBC, CBC Radio, Radio Canada, Business Week, CanWest, The Vancouver Sun, The Vancouver Province, The Toronto Star, Realm Magazine, Business in Vancouver, Buffalo First, Buffalo Law Journal and many other media outlets. She has spoken about consulting, entrepreneurship, business start up, marketing, management, business strategy, advertising, work-life balance, parenting, working from home, MBAs and even road rage. She has also worked as a freelance writer, publishing articles in a range of magazines and newspapers, including USA Today.

Scope creep & your business

Scope creep can derail your business, costing time and money. Learning to manage scope creep and putting a scope of work plan in place may save you.

Consulting fees – should you discount when starting out?

It can be tempting to cut your consulting fees when you’re starting out. Here’s why you should think twice about discount the rate you charge as a consultant.

Disney revamped Old Yeller – but tread carefully with your brand revamp

Disney pulls off a repackaging of a tragic classic children’s book – but don’t assume you can do the same with your brand revamp.

You won’t believe how this gardening truck beats the marketing game

You won’t believe how this gardening truck beats the marketing game. At first, I was shocked. Then I was too busy looking at what was there. Then I figured out what was going on – and it was simple brilliance.

Stay gold, Ponyboy

stay gold, ponyboy

An odd sticker with a “Stay gold, Ponyboy quote” harkens back to simpler days.

Consulting business names – 25 ideas for great brands


Choosing a name for your consulting business means making lots of decisions. Our 25 ideas for choosing a great name can make the process a little easier.

Managing business continuity risk

business continuity risk

Own a small business? Managing business continuity risk can better ensure the long term health of your business.

Setting consulting fees confidently



Setting consulting fees confidently can help you get ahead in your consulting career, no matter whether you’re starting out or firmly established. Learn more about what trips up most consultants.

From the master

Don Draper of Mad Men has some sound advice for entrepreneurs and others…

Is search marketing right for you?

search marketing for consultants

Search marketing can help your business reach potential customers. Is it right for you?

Should you market your small business with PPC?

Should you market your business with PPC?

Small business owners face a barrage of marketing options. Given the rise in PPC advertising, entrepreneurs may be wondering what PPC can do for them. Find out why – or why not – to do PPC.

Consulting Fees now available in print and .mobi

Consulting Fees: A Guide for Independent Consultants is now available in print – get your copy here…

Connecting with new clients – Part 5

As you have discovered from this series, there are countless ways to connect with new clients. You will find the methods that work best for you, but don’t be shy about trying something different.

Connecting with new clients – Part 4

Depending on your business, an online presence can help you connect with new clients. The Internet can provide you with a wealth of advertising/marketing options. Depending on what type of consulting service you are offering, you should consider one or more of the following…

Connecting with new clients – Part 3

Though it’s a classic way of connecting with new clients, the tactic of handing out your business cards is still relevant in today’s technological age.

Connecting with new clients – Part 2

Don’t miss an opportunity to make a name for yourself. Get yourself out there and introduce yourself.

How to become a consultant and succeed

Wondering how to become a consultant and succeed? It starts with focus and confidence – and you may find that figuring out your path helps with the latter.

Finding ways to connect with new clients – Part 1

Finding new clients – read on for tips. In the next few weeks you can look forward to another series of articles on finding new clients for your consulting business. I will cover traditional approaches as well as not-so-traditional. Some of these ideas will be familiar to you. But I hope you also learn some new techniques that will help you build your client base and increase your business.

Before you decide on any approach, you need to identify your target market. Who do you picture as a prospective client? Age, sex and level of education are examples of questions you need to ask yourself. Will your clients be individuals or small businesses? Ask questions specific to your type of business.

So, create an ideal client profile – it will be an invaluable tool for finding new customers. Knowing your target market is a must-do before you start promoting your consulting business.

So get ready for a wealth of tips and tricks to help you connect with new clients!

Related to this post

Making the transition

So you’re working for somebody else but you dream of becoming a full-time self-employed consultant. The good news is: you don’t have to up and quit your current job! A great way to achieve your goal is to start consulting part-time.

Why should you do this?

  • Finances – your current job is your ‘safety net.’ Staying in your existing job enables you to build your consulting client base at your own pace and without financial worries.
  • Experience – consulting part-time while you continue to work provides you with valuable hands-on experience. You may also realize you need to gain more knowledge through courses or classes. During this time you can start networking and perhaps even find a mentor. Everything you learn now will prepare you for the day you want to move into full-time consulting.
  • Enjoyment – working as a part-time consultant gives you the time you need: you can focus on your goal and discover just how rewarding being a consultant can be!

Other aspects to consider:

  • Prepare for longer hours – most likely you’ll be working some evenings and weekends. Make sure you find a good balance and pace yourself accordingly.
  • It takes time – you won’t have one hundred clients lined up when you start your consulting business (if you do, then congratulations!). As your experience grows, your client base will increase, too, and before you know it, you’ll be able to start consulting full-time!
  • And never forget…

    • Keep your dream alive! Focus on what you need to do to make it work. Stay positive. Increase your knowledge. Challenge yourself. And never lose sight of your goal of becoming a full-time self-employed consultant.

    Related to average consultant rates

    What are you good at?

    You think you want to become a consultant, but you’re not sure what direction to take. A good starting-point is to do a personal inventory for yourself. This involves taking stock of your unique skills, attributes and experiences. (Refer to Discover Your Inner Consultant for help in carrying out an inventory.) You probably have a good idea of your skills and abilities, both personally and professionally.

    But you may not know it all – you are only looking at yourself from your point of view. Other people in your life, especially those you live or work closely with, may have a better idea of your talents than you do.

    Six tips for self discovery

    1. Ask your friends and family:  What do they think your best skills and abilities are? You might be surprised at what you hear.
    2. Listen to compliments: Really listen; don’t automatically disregard them. What are people telling you? Try taking notes, even if it just means jotting things down in a diary or Word doc.
    3. List ‘easy’ tasks: The tasks you find easy are a good indicator of where your strengths lie. Can you build on these?
    4. Notice your feelings: What do you really enjoy doing? What would you love to learn? Make a list of what challenges you and what bores you. Notice any patterns?
    5. Ask your boss and co-workers: Those who work with you should have a good grasp of your strengths and weaknesses.
    6. Ask your teachers and classmates: Here is a group of people that you’ve likely spent years with; who better to ask what qualities they noticed and admired about you?

    Don’t be shy; only by asking directly will you discover your potential in becoming a consultant. Listen to what people are telling you – they are a valuable resource that you should not overlook.

     

    Related posts:

     

    3 surprising ways to increase your work productivity

    Like other professionals, consultants can suffer from boredom or stress or isolation. Often your productivity declines as a result, which can lead to frustration or apathy. Does this sound like you?

    Via Elephant Magazine, here are 3 surprising things that will increase your work productivity:

    1. Take your work to a cafe.
    2. Take your dog to work.
    3. Slow down!

    For consultants who work from home, Tip #1 is great advice. Getting out of the house and into a stimulating environment can work wonders if you’re stuck in a rut or feeling lonely.

    As for bringing your dog to work, well if it’s allowed, why not? According to the article, the presence of a dog can reduce office stress and also relax clients.

    Tip #3, slowing down, means adding quality time to your life. Exercise more. Sleep more. Eat well.

    As you can see, it doesn’t take much to shake things up. It’s so important to keep your mind and body in tune, both mentally and physically. If you do, you will definitely see an improvement in your work productivity.

    Related posts:

    Leave a paper trail!

    How many times have you had to reference something and not been able to find what you’re looking for? How about the phone number of a prospect you met yesterday in the coffee shop? Exactly what did you tell your client on the phone two weeks ago?

    There is nothing more frustrating than not being able to find what you need… right now. Your consulting business will operate far more smoothly if you record and save vital information.

    • Filing system: This is the most obvious and the most important. Filing makes work so much easier, so make it a point to keep your files organized and up-to-date.
    • Telephone calls: Jot down the name and date of every client and potential client that you speak to. Also note the purpose of the call. File them accordingly.
    • Notes: Use a good old-fashioned notepad or use your smart-phone (note-taking apps are available). Take notes either during client interviews/discussions or soon afterwards while the information is still fresh in your mind.
    • Email: You can use your email to create a paper trail. Create folders to save important messages, including messages that you have sent. Keep your inbox clean so you’re not scrolling through 100 messages to find the one you need.
    • Computer: Again, create folders and sub-folders to save important documents. And remember: back-up your files regularly.

    Leaving a paper trail will save you much time and hassle in the future. Clients aside, staying organized will also make tax time (or audit time) a less stressful experience. And while keeping accurate records is important, you should also get rid of unimportant clutter. Eliminating unnecessary documents and files will also save you time and effort when it comes to finding needed information.

    Related posts:

    Ask Your Clients

    As a consultant, you want to leave your clients more than satisfied with your services. But how do you know how happy they are after the job is done? You might think you’ve done a fantastic job, but the client may not agree. Learning what you’ve done right, and wrong, is an important step in becoming a successful consultant.

    So how do you find out exactly what your clients think? Create a survey!

    Here are some tips to get you started:

    • Select your method of delivery. Mail? Email? Telephone? Choose the method with which you will be most comfortable.
    • Contact your client a.s.a.p. Their memory of your services will still be fresh in their minds. A good method is to include the survey with the invoice and request that they send their response along with their cheque. Consider giving them an incentive – such as an entry in a draw or a reward for a future purchase.
    • Design the survey. Make it clear what you are asking. You can ask open-ended questions or have your client select from options. Combining both is good practice. Leave space for comments. You can also use an external site to create your survey, as I did here.
    • Keep it simple. Be specific as to what you are asking, and keep the survey short. You don’t want the client confused, or to lose interest. Make it easy for them to give their feedback.
    • Don’t take it personally. You may not get as many responses as you expected. Remember: people might be too busy or just forgetful. Or perhaps you received some ‘negative’ feedback. Don’t beat yourself up; learn from it.
    • Follow up. Thank your client for taking the time to respond. Let them know that they’ve been heard.

    Learning what your clients think of your consulting services is a great way to build a solid relationship with your clients. Also, by addressing client issues, you will encourage repeat customers. And don’t forget that you will receive positive comments as well, a sure sign that you are becoming a successful consultant!

    Related posts

    We all make mistakes

    It’s your worst nightmare: the client phones and says that you’ve made a big mistake. What do you do? Whatever you do, don’t have a nervous breakdown. Stay calm and analyze the situation. As an independent consultant, remember that it’s up to you to remedy the situation quickly and with a minimum of fuss.

    Listen carefully and don’t interrupt or defend yourself. Apologize but don’t grovel. Don’t go on the defensive or overreact. Tell the client that you will correct the situation as soon as possible.

    Assess your mistake. What went wrong? Was the mistake an issue of miscommunication? What can you do to prevent this from happening again?

    Explain the mistake to your client and take responsibility. No matter how irate a client is, they’ll usually appreciate your honesty. Tell your client how you are going to fix the mistake. Have an action plan/remedy ready, so that you are prepared for questions or asked for more details.

    Fix the mistake and then move on. Don’t let your errors prevent you from moving forward or trying something new. You don’t learn much from doing something perfectly; real knowledge comes from the errors you make. Think of each mistake as a “teacher”.

    Remember, we all make mistakes. What’s important is that you learn from each experience so that you don’t make the same mistake twice.

    Related posts:

    8 Steps to Becoming a Consultant

    Are you thinking of becoming a consultant but you’re not sure where to start? What is a consultant, anyway, and how do you become a consultant?

    To help turn your dream of becoming a consultant into reality, read on…

    8 Steps to Becoming a Consultant

      • 1. Find your niche – What are your interests and passions? What skills, training, and work experience do you possess?

    >>Workbook: Discover Your Inner Consultant<<

    • 2. Do your research – Research your competitors and the local market. Who will your clients be? How will you reach them? Consider writing a business plan.
    • 3. Get legal – Register your business name. Do you need a business permit? Will you operate as a sole proprietor or as a limited company? Check your government web site for rules and regulations.
    • 4. Get your office ready – A computer and printer/fax will be necessary. Other necessities: a good filing system, invoices, office stationery and supplies.
    • 5. Keep track of your money – Either do it yourself or hire a bookkeeper/accountant. Accurate financial records are a must!
    • 6. Set your fees – Hourly, daily, fixed (per project) or competitive – or solution-based. See our article.
    • 7. Sell yourself – Advertise in your local newspaper. Tell your friends. Network with other business professionals. Utilize social media such as LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter.
    • 8. Start working! – You’ve landed your first client, now it’s time to get out there and fulfill your dream of becoming a consultant!

    These are just 8 simple steps that you can use to become a consultant. Once you’ve worked through these steps and done your basic research, you’ll be ready to start your new career as a consultant!

    Related to average consultant rates

    Innovation in Consulting

    A long, long time ago in a suburb far, far away, Rhona-Mae Arca and I worked for a mid-sized software company. We spent lunch times and occasional Friday nights discussing our plans for growing our fledgling side businesses. Rhona-Mae went on to found Musespeak Consulting – and she’s just received major recognition from Roland Music for her innovations.

    Musespeak has gone through a few iterations over the years, but has always focused on Rhona-Mae’s key skills in music, teaching, writing and consulting for non-profits. Along the way, she’s learned a bevy of technology and social media skills. Part of her business involves music education for children – and she’s found ways to bring her lessons right into their homes and outside of her one-on-one time with them.

    Any consultant, regardless of their field, can learn from Rhona-Mae’s innovative use of technology. She explains it best in this video, which you can also find on her blog. Rhona-Mae uses applications, international online collaboration tools, a Youtube channel, blog, direct email, newsletters and a range of other tools to support her clients. And while this may be the most techy piano teaching you’ve ever seen, those same tools can be extended to all sorts of consulting environments. Grammy-winning composer Eric Whiteacre just gave her a shout-out too.

    Now, Arca could have kept things simple. She could have seen herself as a piano teacher who liked to write. She could have holed up with a piano and a pad of paper and some homemade business cards. But she had a bigger vision and a passion to embrace new technologies. As a result, she’s been able to engage her clients, extend their learning, and involve them in international projects. She put a clear vision (and plan) in place, deliberately pursuing technologies that would support the needs of her clients. It’s not like she jumped on Twitter and Facebook and waited to see what happened. No, she started with her clients’ needs and went from there.

    What technologies are you using in your consulting practice to support your clients?

    Sporadic posting and life’s unexpected events

    I usually pride myself on updating Consultant Journal regularly. In fact, I often have a stash of posts written well in advance – I just most more spontaneous ones as they occur to me. Well, that all ground to a halt recently.

    You see, I decided to sell my home. That meant getting ready to stage the property, clearing things out, redecorating for broad appeal, getting stuff into storage, keeping the place immaculate for showings, negotiating with buyers and more. Then I ran into a few hiccoughs as I tried to buy a new home. I’ll keep the details off the web. And then, after buying, I ran into another emergency – and I got really, really sick. And now I’m renovating…while starting a new contract with a new business client.

    So things at Consultant Journal have been on hiatus. And that’s been very challenging, because I love writing articles here. Funny enough, many of my favourite posts have been about work-life balance.

    Well, work-life balance is far from a perfect thing. I’ve spent the past to months in a 95-percent life, 5 percent work balance. But thing are steadily swinging the other way and I think I’ll be back to “normal” pretty soon. Whatever normal mean.

    I’m pretty thankful to run a business. With the patience of my clients, I’ve been able to make it through this unpredictably challenging time. My business is flexible and a good portion of it can run without me.

    But I love writing for Consultant Journal and look forward to posting more frequent articles. I’m glad you waited.

    Thank goodness for self employment

    The past two months have been a blur. Between selling my home, taking on a new client, taking care of sick kids, managing volunteer commitments, buying a home and just the regular routine of parenting and having a life, I’ve felt stretched in all directions.  And I’ve never felt more fortunate to work for myself.

    Because I work for myself, I can move things around. Home needs to be staged? Okay, I’ll run out to the store, buy accessories in the latest colours, and stage my home myself, allowing it to sell in just days. I’ll just work in the evening instead. Kids sick? No problem. I’ll move some meetings, work while they nap on the sofa, make them honey-lemon drinks while I make administrative calls, and mop their brows in between emails. Volunteer organization needs some help? Okay, I’ve got a few minutes to provide over-the-phone consulting while waiting for my computer to install updates — and I’ll write them a fundraising letter while waiting for my laundry to finish, before heading out to lecture at the university a few minutes from here. Need to do a home inspection? Okay…I’ll just answer emails while following the inspector around and chatting about roof lives, concrete spalling and planter boxes.

    Sometimes, it all feels a bit frantic. There’s a lot to juggle. But I’m the kind of person who has a lot on the go. I get by with my Google calendar and smartphone (and sometimes my tablet) when I’m not in the office. If I worked a regular job, I’d have a lot on the go, too. I always have. But I swear it’s all a lot more relaxed because I’m self employed.

    You see, I don’t have to worry about getting fired. I don’t have to beg a boss to let me work from home, let me run to appointments or wait around for a repair person. In fact, most days, I work from home – not because I can’t afford an office, but because I can’t afford to give up the time involved in managing yet another place in my life. Right now, as I’m typing this, I have tea boiling on the stove, a turkey breast roasting in the oven, laundry going, and texts from my realtor and mortgage broker coming in. I just hung up with the property appraisal folks. This morning, I took my kids to school late (they’d needed a little more sleep) and I got to do a minute or two of jazz dance with the class before heading off. I didn’t have to ask anyone for permission. I just had to make sure it all jived with my deadlines and my appointments.

    Now, the price I pay for this lifestyle is that sometimes I do work odd hours. I will sometimes send out emails at midnight. I’ll work on a  Saturday. But that’s all a choice and it’s almost certainly because I’ve made a trade off somewhere else. I check my email (sometimes infrequently) when I go on vacation, but I also take a lot of vacations – not the two or three weeks that most people do. In fact, my kids were off sick for four days this week and we’re about to enjoy two weeks of Spring Break together. That’s more time off than most people have all year.

    After 16 years of working for myself, I can’t imagine life any other way.

    Is a business plan necessary?

    Is a business plan necessary? Maybe if you’re looking for investors or lenders or hoping to reassure a spouse or yourself. But creating a plan opens doors.

    The Number One Secret Behind Charging Higher Fees

    If you want to charge higher fees, you can’t be a run of the mill consultant. When people really value what you have to offer, it’s because of scarcity.

    Now, economists talk about scarcity all the time. You’re heard of the supply and demand curve. And prices emerge where the two lines cross. Where there’s a supply of services and a corresponding demand. If there is a scarcity of supply and demand is strong, then prices will be higher.

    Just move

     

     

     

    Related:

    How to become a consultant

    Write Your Business Plan Now

     

    Learn to freelance and change your life

    Learning to freelance or consult means more than just picking up a project here or there. It’s a chance to improve your financial profile, broaden and deepen your experience, pursue your hobbies and interests and more.

    2013 – the year to raise your rate

    If you haven’t raised your consulting rate in a while, you’re probably losing money. And if you’re still charging by the hour, you might want to look at other options.

    Fast away the old year passes

    The clock is winding down on 2012, but there are a few days left still. I’m maxing and relaxing on a stay-cation – a vacation at home. But my mind occasionally does turn to my business dreams for the year ahead, even if many of them are rooted in how I want my personal life to look.

    When life gets in the way

    Sometimes, life gets in the way and I end up hitting the pause button with work projects. But, at the same time, my self employment as a consultant affords me work-life balance that would be hard to get anywhere else.

    What to do when clients lowball your fees

    Clients will often try to lowball your fees, sometimes comparing your rate to a salary. Here’s how to manage.

    Binders Full of Women – a book

    Mitt Romney’s quote about binders full of women has gone viral. To contribute to the trending meme, I thought I’d put together an ebook that details binders of women. It’s a handy reference for anyone who wasn’t already aware of the bind women find themselves in.

    Binders full of women - a list


     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Get the book on Amazon for the Kindle. (You can read Kindle books on most devices, using the Amazon Kindle Cloud Viewer. It should set up on your device pretty quickly and easily.)

    Hot models for high fees

    Seven super hot models – see our video on the hottest models for setting your fees.

    Assessing risk in meeting new clients

    Business owners – including freelancers, consultants, coaches and counsellors – who meet with clients alone should consider these points for assessing risk.

    Safety tips for meeting new clients

    Consultants and freelancers need to consider their safety when meeting new clients. Coffee shops are popular venues, but consider these other tips for reducing risk.

    September feels like a new year

    I might do my New Year’s resolutions in January, but September is still like a new year to me. I’ve never shaken that back to school feeling.

    Be clear on why you’re doing this

    Do you know why you’re consulting? The reasons you may be in consulting are as varied as the kinds of people who consult. But take some time to think about why you’re in consulting.

    Second jobs – working on the side

    Second jobs are increasingly popular. Millions of people take on side jobs, gigs, contracts and part-time work, so that they can get ahead, build experience or have a little fun.

    Retire and consult – a consulting business launch guide

    Retire and consult – oh, those Babyboomers! Always doing things their own way. Well, here’s how Boomers can create a plan to retire and consult.

    Choosing the right consulting business

    Feeling a bit fogged in when it comes to choosing or re-tuning your consulting business? Help yourself find focus by doing a personal inventory and self assessment.

    Introverts as leaders and entrepreneurs

    Entrepreneur tends to make people think “extrovert”. But, in reality, many successful entrepreneurs and change makers have other profiles.

    Consultant salary & pay 101

    Consultant salary and pay information can help you navigate the path to solopreneurship, self employment or traditional jobs at big firms. Yet it’s hard to find that information because consultants’ salaries or fees…

    Rules for consulting

     

    How to build your brand at a wine & cheese

    Entrepreneurs can choose from an array of networking events. And you can use those events to build your business, if you think about it from a strategic point of view.

    Noise canceling headphones – any tips?

    It’s noisy as heck in my office. I need some noise canceling headphones. Got any advice?

    Confession

    I’ve got a confession to make. It’s one I haven’t shared with very many people. In fact, I’m not even sure my closest friends know.

    Dealing with stress as an independent consultant

    The following guest post is by Ryan Rivera.

    Jane has been an independent consultant for 2 and half years now, working for various business firms who seek her expertise on identifying and determining management flaws and problems. She analyses data and prepare reports, citing the difficulties and improvements the company should and must implement. Her job description also involves creating a detailed and quality long- and short-term management tactics to help increase efficacy of management control as well as increase productivity and profitability of the whole enterprise.

    9 tips for self care in business

    Self care – it’s key to business success, even if you think it’s a wishy-washy term. While ignoring your personal needs might help your business get ahead in the short term, it’s the path to burnout in the long term. Sometimes, taking care of business means taking care of yourself.

    Consulting goes mainstream

    More and more people are choosing consulting as their primary or secondary mode of income. Consulting as a career has become widely accepted, and more frequently preferred in today’s busy world. There are many reasons why consulting has gone mainstream: do any of them apply to you?

    Steve Jobs, Apple and being an expert

    I tripped across this photo of Steve Jobs’ notes for the iPhone launch. Even the head of Apple Computers needed notes to navigate the iPhone. The expert needed help.

    Hope and creativity – Caine’s Arcade

    Last night, I watched Caine’s Arcade, a short film about the arcade a 9 year old boy from South LA has built by hand. Using cardboard boxes from his dad’s car parts store and a whole lot of imagination, Caine has created an arcade that rivals any you’d find downtown or at Chuck E. Cheese’s.

    6 easy mistakes consultants make

    Easy mistakes catch the best of us off guard. After 15 years as a consultant, I’ve seen it all – and done it all. Fortunately, I’d like to think most of my mistakes were in the early years and that I have at least moved on to mistakes that take experience to make. Ha! So I’m in a great position to point out six easy mistakes many people make with their consulting businesses.

    How to manage home office clutter

    You may be asking this question as you stare at your disorganized desk: how to manage home office clutter? It isn’t as difficult as you might think. Just follow these few simple steps, and you, too, can have a clutter-free office space so that you can concentrate on the important stuff.

    On comments and tedium

    The previous post here covered finding time to work on your business. And, of course, I’ve been talking about business plans a lot lately. In spite of all this, I’m doing an awful lot of work *in* my business right now. And some of it is just…tedious!

    Finding time to work ON your business

    Are you finding time to work ON your business, or do you feel like you are just stuck in a hamster wheel? Perhaps you are in a rut, and don’t realize it. With just a few changes, you can approach your business with a new outlook. You may have heard of all of the following concepts, but are you applying them to your own business? Make the time.

    Tax time, anytime

    Tax time doesn’t have to be stress-filled. Are you one of those people who shove receipts and invoices wherever is convenient, then panic when you can’t find them? Do you have to sort through a mountain of paperwork when tax time rolls around? Why don’t you be kind to yourself and promise to do tax time, anytime, from here on in?

    What if every day was the weekend?

    Write Your Business Plan Now launches

    I’m pleased to announce the launch of Write Your Business Plan Now, a kit I put together to help real people write business plans. I mentioned I’d be releasing the guide a few weeks ago, but I went back and added in extra resources to make it a complete, all-in-one kit. Inside the kit, you’ll find the resources I actually use in my business every day to help my clients with their business plans. I showed the kit to one of my clients and she exclaimed, "This is what everybody needs!"

    Click here to learn more about Write Your Business Plan Now.

    The kit includes a full guide to writing a business plan, a Quick Start Guide and Word template you can start working on right away, Excel spreadsheets that you can just plunk numbers in and more. I based Write Your Business Plan Now on the problems I saw people struggle with when I was a business advisor for a self employment program, along with the challenges I see my own consulting clients tackle.Moreover, "business plan" is one of the most popular searches on this site, so I want to make sure Consultant Journal readers have everything they need.

    Red Hot Chili Peppers mixed up with bag piper band

    What happens if you confuse Red Hot Chili Peppers with a bag pipe band called The Red Hot Chilli Pipers? You may know the famous alternative band, Red Hot Chili Peppers. A client emailed me recently to say she’d been looking at their videos on Youtube. She was looking at one clip that featured bag pipes and thinking Flea and the boys looked a little less gaunt than usual.

    Why starting a side business beats the stock market

    Starting a side business may be the best thing you can do to get ahead. As with second jobs, a side business can be a way to generate income on top of your existing work.

    Nobody told me

    A poem about consulting from a home-based office. An ode to my experience, complete with trials and tribulations.

    Analysis paralysis cures for small business owners

    You see the ball flying toward you, but you somehow can’t get out of the way. You’re too busy looking at all the other options – run, jump, dive, heck, even duck. All you need to do is stick your glove in front of the ball, but you can’t even do that. You can’t move a muscle.

    5 tips from a Vancouver business plan writer

    Wondering how to get going with your business plan? Check out these five tips for moving ahead.

    Write Your Business Plan Now

    Last summer, when as I was doing some business plan coaching, I realized that it’s near impossible to get a good business plan book. Yet many small business owners need a good guide through the process.

    Last day to get the Consulting Start-up Course for $127

    Today’s the last day to get the Consulting Start-up Course (Become a Consultant – How to Make the Leap) for just $127. That’s 35% off the regular price!

    Become a Consultant - Consulting Start-up CourseThe course includes audio lessons, worksheets, exercises, discussion forums and a full guide. You also gain access to the full Consultant Journal library – Discover Your Inner Consultant, Consulting Fees, Become a Consultant and more. The ebooks alone are worth more than the $127 tag, so this is a great opportunity.

    Just use discount code jan12 at checkout – offer expires tonight at midnight!

    How to use LinkedIn to build expert status

    How to use LinkedIn to build expert status – Are you wondering whether LinkedIn can help you build your expert status? Curious whether LinkedIn is anything more than just a fly-by-night social media portal?

    LinkedIn is a unique social media site that can be a powerful tool when used appropriately. And one of the most effective ways to use LinkedIn is as a tool to help you build expert status.

    8 reasons the economy means opportunity

    Even when the economy is in the dumpster, opportunities abound for consultants paying attention.

    Interns should work for pay

    Interns – should they get paid for the work they do? While some fields seem to hold unpaid internships in high regard, those same internships may be blocking people from ever entering the field.

    New year, new ideas

    My thoughts about how to approach 2012. What are yours?

    Sample business plan for consulting

    Using a sample business plan for consulting – wondering if you should use a sample business plan from consulting or put one together on your own?

    8 consulting lessons they don’t teach you in school

    8 consulting lessons they don’t teach you in school – From setting rates to firing clients, university curriculum doesn’t quite cover the ins and outs of consulting! Here are 8 consulting lessons that you won’t learn in academia:

    1. Marketing doesn’t have to be a pain.

    Business plans for consultants

    Putting together a solid business plan can help you get control and confidence in your business. Consider the following points as you work on your plan – and take a look at why a business plan can help if you haven’t already got one.

    Marketing – Turn a necessary evil into self nurture

    Many small business owners hate marketing and react as though they’re doing evil in their work. But, done right, marketing can be an act of self care.

    Putting together a business plan

    Get past the overwhelm and into the power seat with your business plan. Put together a business plan with these tips.

    What is consulting?

    What is consulting? Consulting is a career choice that offers professional or specialized advice to individuals and businesses for a fee. As a consultant, you will likely work freelance, although some consultants are employed by large corporations. A consultant may have one specialty or many. You may choose consulting as a full-time career or as a second job that provides extra income.

    Consulting fees

    Consulting fees and how to set them can be a challenge to new consultants. You might be wondering how much to charge or be unsure of your own value. Many new consultants start by undercharging. However, setting your consulting fees in the right range is easier than you think. There are several approaches to setting consulting fees that you can take. In this article, hourly, daily, fixed, and competitive rates will be examined.

    Consulting company business plan

    Consulting company business plans – Are you looking for a business plan template or a boiler-plate that will help you put together a consulting company business plan? There are a variety of resources here at Consultant Journal that will help you in writing your consulting company business plan.

    Oops! Major technical problems on this site!

    Oops! I was updating the site and I made a major, major typo. Somehow, I overwrote the entire look of the site. Please be patient while I wait for my web developer to wake up and rescue me.

    Update: I fixed it all by myself!

    Medical insurance coverage

    Medical insurance coverage is something we need to consider carefully. Even minor medical needs, such as prescription drugs or minor health problems, can add up if you do not have adequate medical insurance coverage. In the case of major illness or accident, which can happen to anyone at any time, proper medical insurance coverage is invaluable.

    Typical consulting fees

    What is a typical consulting fee? Good question. Unfortunately, the answer is that there are no typical consulting fees! Consulting is made up of so many variables and factors that there really is no easy answer. As you can imagine, typical consulting fees for skin care consultants are vastly different from typical consulting fees for jury consultants.

    Typical consulting fees are all about value. How much value do your services offer your client? By doing a little research and bearing value in mind, you will be able to set a rate that is appropriate to your area of expertise and is competitive within the industry.

    Consultancy business plan template

    Consultancy business plan templates are extremely useful when putting together your own consultancy business plan. However, it’s important to use critical thinking when working off a consultancy business plan template that’s already been created.

    Consulting rate

    Consulting rate – Are you wondering how to set your rates as a new consultant? It’s extremely important to set an appropriate rate for your consulting services. Why? Because not only does your rate reflect your qualifications and expertise, but it’s also your bread and butter! Use a strategy when setting your consulting rate so that you are confident in your pricing structure. Rates should also take into consideration competitors’ rates, physical location (think urban cities versus small towns) and the exclusivity of your services.

    Consultant business plan template

    Consultant business plan template – Are you searching for a consultant business plan template because you’re interested in becoming a consultant?

    If so, then you’ve come to the right place. Not only does Consultant Journal have excellent consultant business plan template resources, but we also have over 900 valuable articles that explain every aspect of becoming a consultant, from consultant finance to marketing your consultancy.

    3 big ways your smart phone can help you make more money

    As you know, I love my smart phone. Not only do I love these 7 reasons to use portable media in your business, but I’ve also discovered the 3 big ways your smart phone can help you make more money.

    Consultancy – Start your own

    Consultancy – Have you always wanted to start your own consultancy? Not sure where to start? The good news is that starting a consultancy can be as easy as choosing a specialization, building your expertise, setting your rates, and finding your first client. In fact, depending on the type of consultant you are to become, there are very few rules governing most consulting industries so the time it takes to go from zero to having your own consultancy is shorter than you think.

    Four new products added to the consulting start-up course

    I just finished uploading new content to my consulting start-up course, Become a Consultant: How to Make the Leap. You’ll now also find:
    - Tips for Getting Started with Managing Your Online Reputation, a key part of jumpstarting your expert status (audio)
    - Six Secrets for Managing Your Online Reputation(audio)
    - Managing Your Online Reputation, a detailed report, along with a list of resources you can start using now
    - The Three Things You *MUST* Do Before You Can Move to Solution-based Fees (audio)…

    4 things you never knew about consulting fees

    I’ve done a lot of work on consulting fees, including writing Consulting Fees: A Guide for Independent Consultants and helping numerous new consultants set their consulting fees. When discussing consulting fees with clients and new consultants, I’ve noticed common misconceptions about consulting fees.

    I’ve compiled these common misconceptions into this article to help set the record straight when it comes to consulting fees.

    7 terrible secrets revealed by your email address (and how to fix them)

    When it comes to your personal and business brand, your email address may be undoing all your hard work. Over the years, I’ve seen a lot of email addresses – and I’ve had a chance to make observations through the eyes of hiring manager, consultant, client, volunteer and colleague. And I have spotted 7 terrible secrets revealed by email addresses.

    Welcome, Entrepreneur Magazine readers

    Consultant Journal is featured in Entrepreneur as part of a story on launching a consulting firm. Being featured in Entrepreneur feels like I’ve come full circle in my business.

    Consulting business plan template – free outline

    Many people write to ask where they can find a consulting business plan template. Well, here’s a free outline of a consulting business plan template.

    But it’s just your time!

    “Could you spare 20 minutes to talk to me on the phone?”

    “I’d be happy to work with you to develop a proposal that will meet your needs.”

    “But it’s just 20 minutes. In 20 minutes, you could give me such important strategy that would otherwise take me months to develop. You could really help me….”

    How I learned to stop worrying and love the economy

    Feel like the economy is hurting your business? The simple truth is that any change in the economy brings along opportunities.

    I love my smartphone

    A smartphone has given more power, flexibility and freedom to me in my business life. Could it work for you?

    Living in the now

    In today’s world, it’s pretty easy to get caught up in all the things you want to be doing. Sometimes, just taking a break from the future to focus on right now can be valuable.

    Dreyfus model of skill acquisition

    The Dreyfus model of skill acquisition is a helpful concept to understand when interested in building your expert status. The Dreyfus model was developed at the University of California during the 1980s, and this model of skill acquisition is still relevant today.

    Why build your consulting website using WordPress

    Whether you are a just getting started as a consultant or whether you’re a seasoned veteran, chances are you will need a consulting website. Gone are the days where a business card will suffice when it comes to marketing your consulting business. You’re going to need a website.

    50 people in line for our teleseminar tonight!

    Wow, I must say I’m floored. When we sent out the invitation for Consultant Journal readers to take part in tonight’s free teleseminar, I was hoping that we might get 10 people to register. I’m being really honest here – it’s my first time doing something like this for Consultant Journal and I wasn’t sure how readers would respond. I felt there was a good chance many of you felt “stuck” in your lives, but I had no idea so many of you would be keen to listen in. (By the way, if you aren’t able to make the call, you can still register and listen to the recording later.)

    IT contracting rates

    IT contracting rates vary from firm to firm and region to region. Nowadays, you may be competing with offshore contractors. But you can still carve out a niche for yourself.

    Nearing capacity for teleseminar – sign up now

    Just a quick note to say that we’re almost at capacity with seats in this Wednesday’s free teleseminar. As I mentioned, I’ve partnered with Gerrianne Clare of Family Guidance System to offer a FREE teleseminar for Consultant Journal readers.

    Business moms – 5 things they won’t tell you

    We hear a lot about work at home moms and small business owners who are moms. Mom entrepreneurs are all the rage. But here are five things you won’t hear.

    Free teleseminar – filling up fast!

    Sometimes, whether it’s in your professional or personal life, you can get stuck. The stress and strain of trying to have it all can really take its toll. By partnering with others to leverage their strengths and experiences, though, you can find ways to have it all – without having to do it all all the time. As I announced in yesterday’s newsletter, I’ve partnered with Gerrianne Clare of Family Guidance System to offer a FREE teleseminar for Consultant Journal readers.

    Become an IT consultant

    If you’re interested in working as an IT consultant, these handy resources can help you on your path.

    Consultant course – 5 great options for study

    Taking consultant courses can be an effective way to jumpstart your career as a consultant. However, consultant courses aren’t always easy to find or aren’t necessarily in your area. Here are 5 great consulting course options for study that will help you launch into your next career as a consultant.

    Expert consultants – How they got there

    Expert consultants – wondering how they got there? Here’s a quick overview of some founders of top consulting firms, where they came from and how they got there.

    Tom Peters:

    Tom Peters started out with a master’s degree in civil engineering, but he later studied business at Stanford, receiving both an MBA and a PhD. After spending some time in the navy and working at the White House [...]

    7 reasons to own a niche

    1. Expertise

    When you own a niche you are perceived as an expert in that niche. (And you will become an expert in that niche over time, if you aren’t already.) Customers feel more confident when they perceive you as an expert, and it’s easier to stand out in one area.

    2. Clear elevator pitch

    We’ve all met individuals at networking functions who stammer, “I’m a creative writer, but also do social media. And I love helping businesses with their financial books. And I sell audio files on the internet.” When we hear someone with such a diverse range of interests and skills, it can be difficult to know what type of work to hire this consultant for, so we don’t end up hiring them at all.

    Consulting expert manifesto

    Are you interested in building your consulting expert status? Behold – the consulting expert manifesto:

    1. Teach a course

    If you want to fast-track your consulting expert status, arrange to teach a course in your niche. Sound scary? It doesn’t have to be.

    Internet Killed the Video Store

    Blockbuster has announced it’s closing stores. Here’s a little ditty I wrote in honour of the video store. I suppose I was truly a child of the 80s and I remember watching Video Killed the Radio Star over and over during lunch in my fifth grade class room. (Our teacher would record MTV and bring it in. To keep it educational, we had to write a test at the end. Even now, I can tell you obscure details about videos from that time.) Video Killed the Radio Star was the first video ever played on MTV, by the way.

    Social enterprise – four rules for start up

    Is a social enterprise in your dreams? In this guest post, Daniel Frank of GiveACar shares some tips for starting a social enterprise.

    7 ways to use the iPad 2 in your business

    Are you considering whether the iPad 2 is a valuable investment for you and your business? In order to help you make your decision, here are 7 top ways to use the iPad 2 in your business:

    Turning around toxic client situations

    Turning around toxic client situations is sometimes necessary. Turning around toxic client situations for the better may be your only option, especially if your client isn’t quite toxic enough to be fired completely. Turning around toxic client situations may seem difficult–and sometimes even impossible. But your success depends heavily on your attitude, which you can control.

    Upcoming teleclass – survey

    We’re planning a one-hour telephone call that you can dial into or listen to on your computer. It’s the first time we’ve done this, so it will be free, except for whatever normal long distance charges might apply. We’re still pulling the details together, of course. But we need your help! We want to know what time works best for you.

    Identifying toxic clients

    Identifying toxic clients is a valuable skill. Toxic clients are rarely worth the money because they can sap your energy, time and patience. Frequently, it’s possible to identify early warning signs, but we don’t act on them and tend to continue working with the client anyway. But over the long-term most of us wish we’d trusted our initial instincts and avoided working with the toxic client in the first place.

    Take our poll

    So, are you consulting? Take our new poll and tell us.

    Vacationing as a consultant

    It’s May. I hit the beach this weekend and it was packed! It was hard to find a place to sit. The warm sand – a rarity in Vancouver at this time of year – felt really good. And it got me thinking about how lucky I am to live in such a beautiful place, with beaches minutes from my home.

    My career has taken me on many trips. Over the years, I’ve travelled to many countries, states and provinces. Increasingly, I look for ways to combine business with pleasure. I choose business events and meetings in places I already want to visit, so that I can satisfy my tourism bug at the same time.

    Of course, being self employed, I often take work with me when I go on vacation. A good Wifi connection is paramount. But accessories, such as a laptop and smart phone help too. I like to check that Wifi and a good desk are included in the room.

    No matter whether it’s for business or pleasure, I bring along a stack of business cards. I’ve made some great connections on trips over the years and I think that, anytime you make real connections with people, there’s a great opportunity to keep in touch.

    Oh, and be sure to set up a roaming package for your phone. That little business trip to San Jose in February cost me about $160 in phone call fees. Ouch. I’ll be smarter next time.

    What are your consulting vacation trip tips? (Try saying that fast!)

    Say no to coffee

    How do I find out why the heck someone wants to have coffee with me?

    Keys for getting clear about consulting fees

    Setting your consulting fees can be a huge stumbling block. If all this is new to you, you may feel your head spin when you start looking at coming up with a fee. If you’re also dealing with a career change, a career break, cultural or gender factors, things get more complicated. Fortunately, you can use clear models and recommendations to help navigate this new path.

    6 business reasons to use Twitter

    Now, maybe you’re wondering why you should even bother with Twitter. With 140 characters as the limit for a message, what could you possibly gain from this? Well, there are tons of business reasons to bother with Twitter, even if you don’t want to get in the habit of “tweeting” (sending out messages) on your own.

    Tax write off

    Tax write off time of year again, yes it is! Tax write offs are one of the many things that rule about being a consultant, even if being a consultant is your second job.

    Over the years, Consultant Journal has put together a couple of handy tax write off lists, including tax write offs (which covers the basic tax write offs) and more tax write offs (which includes a list of some of the most overlooked tax write offs).

    In addition to the tax write off information in the above two lists, when considering tax write offs don’t forget that in some cases you may be able to write off both business use of your car and business use of your home.

    And don’t forget those charitable donation tax receipts! In fact, you can even donate a car for an additional tax write off.

    Tax write offs are a perk and they are worth keeping track of and claiming. However, don’t go nuts as a new consultant and buy too much just for the tax write offs. Like everything else in life, balance is key.

    How do you keep track of your tax write offs and receipts?

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    Discover Your Inner Consultant – for Moms

    Moms – have you toyed with the idea of consulting as your next career change? Maybe you like the idea of working for yourself, having flex time, building your career, working around your family’s schedules (and sick days!), or earning a solid income. Join veteran consultant Andrea Coutu of Consultant Journal and Kerry Sauriol of Crunchy Carpets and SAHMedia for this hands-on workshop that examines consulting opportunities based on your unique background, best practices for getting started, quick start tips, creative childcare solutions and more. Network with other moms over a light vegetarian lunch and coffee.

    Consultant Journal on Twitter @consultantj

    Many of you have followed me on Twitter as @andrea_coutu. I wanted to let you know that I’ve now set up a separate account for Consultant Journal: @consultantj. You’re welcome to follow me at both accounts, of course, but I’ll be tweeting more specifically about consulting and business management under the Consultant Journal account.

    Do you Tweet? Come say hello!

    12 tips for managing your online reputation

    Managing your online reputation is increasingly important. You may have have heard that dates, neighbours, clients and prospective employers may be looking you up online. But what exactly can you do about it? Maybe you’ve heard that once something is online, it’s there forever. Well, while it’s difficult to remove stuff from the Internet, you can take steps to manage your online reputation.

    Reader Feedback Part Deux

    Okay, the other day, I asked you about ad mock-ups. You spoke. I’ve gone back to that post and updated the images. What do you think now?

    Related: 

    Readers – your feedback wanted!

    []I’m thinking of updating the ads you see over here to the right. You know, the ones for Consulting Fees, Discover Your Inner Consultant, and Become a Consultant. Now, traditionally, I’d just go ahead and put up new ads. But 50,000 people visited this site last month and I’d honestly like to know what you think. You’re the ones who look at this site and what you think matters to me.

    So, as a sneak preview, here are the ads.

    Consulting Fees Guide ad

     

    Discover Your Inner Consultant

     

    Become a Consultant Course

    Do they speak to you? Do you prefer what I have now?

    Update:

    A few of you commented, emailed or DMd on Twitter to tell me you like the first two, but not the last. How does this one work for you?

     

     

    How to become a health sciences consultant

    Health science consulting offers a variety of work opportunities. Find out more about this rewarding field.

    Recommendations for online data storage?

    Ugh. I just had an excrutiating experience with trying to find online data storage.

    Consulting invoice format

    Consulting invoice formats can affect the amount of time you spend invoicing every month. If you’re a new independent consultant who’s just getting started, it won’t be long before you realize that consultants take on many roles during the course of a month–everything from consultant, marketer, IT person, receptionist, and accountant! So it’s important to simplify and streamline as many administrative tasks as possible.

    Getting paid is a crucial part of consulting, and it can be easy to push accounting-related tasks to the back-burner when you are juggling a number of consulting projects. However, choosing a consulting invoice format that is simple to replicate and quick to pull together can streamline your procedures.

    If you are searching for a basic consulting invoice format, check out this basic example, which you can replicate on your own computer. In brief, in your consulting invoice format you will want to include the date, your contact info, your client’s contact info, a basic description of the services rendered, cost breakdowns (including taxes) and your terms of payment. Again, check out this consulting invoice format example for further details.

    If your consulting invoice format is simple and you still find yourself behind on invoicing, consider upgrading to accounting software or sending your accounting needs to an accountant.

    Depending on where you are in your consulting business, remember that it can sometimes be more cost effective to bring in another expert than to struggle with a part of your consulting business that doesn’t come naturally and takes up a lot of time.

    Related posts:

     

    Consultant course – start your own business

    Whether you’ve had a consulting business for a while or you’re still testing the waters, it can help to have guidance and support along the way. That’s why Consultant Journal offers a consultant course designed to help people build consulting businesses. In our consultant course, Become a Consultant: How to Make the Leap, you can learn about everything from marketing to finances.

    While most entrepreneurship programs focus on general business start-up advice, consulting offers its own set of unique circumstances. Having an inside view in a dedicated consulting course can help you through consulting start-up questions.

    When I started my own business more than 14 years ago, I enrolled in an entrepreneurship program. It was a wonderful, supportive environment and I’m now good friends with one of the program’s facilitators. Yet, while I studied in the program, I yearned for help with my unique business — consulting. Starting a consulting business differs from other kinds of businesses in that, in the early days anyway, you’re selling yourself. And, in most cases, people start consulting businesses partly out of lifestyle desires – perhaps an interest in working from home, working flex hours or maybe even moving to a new part of the world. This makes consulting very different from selling widgets, running a restaurant or many other businesses.

    Moreover, as you start up a consulting business, it can help to connect with other consultants. Given the project- and referral-based nature of consulting, you’ll probably be collaborating with other people for years to come. So taking a course with other consultants can help you enhance your professional network.

    Have you taken any consultant courses and consultant training along the way?

    Print, PDF and email this blog

    I’m happy to say that you can now print, PDF or email blog posts from Consultant Journal. You’ll see the print & PDF widget at the bottom of posts. It also allows you to email yourself a copy of any post.

    By the way, have you tried "Share This"? That’s the widget just below "Print Friendly". You can share any blog post with friends and social media contacts using Facebook, email, Twitter – you name it.

    See below! Enjoy!

    Smart social butterfly turned into software

    I was at O’Reilly Strata last month, where I met Claude Theoret. Claude’s story is fascinating. He’s an astrophysicist turned consultant turned social media software pioneer. And he’s found a way to take his social and analytic skills and turned them into software.

    How to get a consulting job

    Wondering how to get a consulting job? Many people who wonder how to get a consulting job start by contacting existing consulting firms and pitching their own services to existing consulting businesses. And that can work for some. But if you’re thinking about how to get a consulting job, why not consider starting your own consulting business?

    If you’re wondering how to get a consulting job, consider starting your own consulting business right now. Here are five reasons why the answer to how to get a consulting job should be to start your own consulting business!

    1. Starting a consulting business is inexpensive

    In many cases, all you need is a home office and a computer to start your own consulting business. Can’t get much cheaper than that! 

    2. Choose your own value system

    You’ll get to choose your own niche, your own specialty and your own value system. No need to make yourself fit into someone else’s terms when it comes to how to get a consulting job.

    3. Be your own boss

    Haven’t you always wanted to set your own schedule and the freedom to do what you want, when you want? In addition to having the independence to make your own decisions, there will be no one breathing down your neck. Total freedom!

    4. Watch your business grow – on your terms

    You can control the growth of your own consulting business. Want to stay small and work from home–focusing on work/life balance? No problem. Or want to set your sights high and start your own firm and watch it take off? No problem! It’s all up to you.

    5. Own your achievement and recognition

    The satisfaction of knowing that you created your own business on your own is priceless.

    Do you have an idea regarding what type of consulting business you can start but aren’t sure where to begin? Join us for the course Become a Consultant: How To Make the Leap.

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    Do you have a product you want us to review?

    If you have a product or service you’d like Consultant Journal to check out, just let us know. But be prepared for our honest opinion – we want to do a service to the readers here at Consultant Journal and we can only do that by telling it like it is. We tend not to be complete Debbie Downers, though, and we like to draw attention to the good points, too. You may also be interested in our consultant directory and list, if you think your services/goods are a fit for our readers.

    Rates for independent consultants

    Rates for independent consultants can be one of the most important elements to understand as a consultant. How do you set rates for independent consultants? What are other consultants in your field charging? How can you justify a high rate? Should you negotiate your rate? How much is too much–or too little? What strategy should you use to calculate rates for independent consultants?

    Questions abound when it comes to setting rates for independent consultants. And setting appropriate independent consultant rates can make the difference between struggle and success as a consultant.

    There are numerous types of consultants, and the procedure for setting rates for independent consultants can differ depending on the type of service you provide. For example, a fitness consultant and a jury consultant may use different strategies to calculate rates–even though they may both be independent consultants.

    Relatedly, different target markets can bear different consulting rate scales. For example, an IT consultant who targets new small businesses may have drastically different independent consultant rates than an IT consultant who targets Fortune 100 companies.

    There are numerous strategies for setting rates for independent consultants, including:

    • multiplying your hourly wage
    • using a per diem rate
    • charging by project or performance
    • using real life data
    • using competitors’ rates

    However, all of the above strategies for setting rates for independent consultants miss the most important piece: charging based on the perceived value that you provide.

    Want to know more about how to set your own independent consultant rates using this strategy? Get practical tips and 124 pages on making money as a consultant! Check out my Consulting Fees: A Guide for Independent Consultants.

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    Expert Consultant’s Manifesto

    In becoming an expert consultant, you make a bold statement about your principles. With that in mind, here is the Expert Consultant’s Manifesto.

    Types of consultants

    Types of consultants – Think there are only just a few types of consultants? Well, think again! There are hundreds of types of consultants. Here at Consultant Journal, we have profiled numerous consulting niches, and we’ve only just scratched the surface!

    Types of consultants can be broadly arranged into consulting sub-categories. Of course, some types of consultants can be grouped into more than one category, so be sure to check out all the categories if you’re looking at this list of types of consultants for inspiration on your journey to become a consultant.

    1. Personal consultants

    Personal consultants offer personal services to individuals, such as weight loss and fitness consultants, home staging consultants, clutter consultants, skin care consultants and wedding consultants.

    Personal consulting tends to be easier to get into because there are fewer certification requirements.

    2. Technical consultants

    Technical consultants perform technical services for business. Quite often, these types of consultants are hired to execute a specific project or deliverable, rather than provide advice.

    There are a wide range of technical consultants and they can range from graphic designers, IT consultants, grant writing consultants, online researchers, copywriting consultants, and more.

    3. Business consultants

    Business consultants provide advice to other businesses, from small businesses to Fortune 500 companies. There are numerous types of consultants in this sub-category, especially because many business require these services but do not require them enough to warrant hiring a full-time staff member. Thus, businesses turn to consultants to fill this need.

    There are numerous types of business consultants, and some examples include marketing consultants, sales consultants, human resources consultants, restaurant consultants, and business development consultants.

    4. Executive consultants

    Executive consultants are a smaller group of consultants, and they tend to charge the highest fees. Some examples of executive consultants are legal consultants, labor relations consultants, conflict resolution consultants, jury consultants, medical consultants, and other highly skilled and highly trained consultants.

    For even more ideas for consulting ideas, check out this list of types of consultants.

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    Who you calling an expert?

    Who you calling an expert? Becoming a small business or independent consultant may seem out of reach to some of you because you just don’t think you’re enough of an expert to be a consultant.

    Let me tell you right now that becoming an expert is not as complicated as it sounds. When you’re a consultant, you are offering your clients something of value–your expertise. But expertise doesn’t have to mean that you are the world’s foremost expert in your field. No, expertise just means that you have more insights than your client does on your given area of expertise.

    For example, you may be a home staging consultant. Now, you may never be called on to provide staging services for Oprah, but you do know something about home staging, right? You’re passionate about home staging, you’re up on all the trends and you’ve even taking courses on the subject. And if your client is a color-blind bachelor who doesn’t know the difference between orange shag and a neutral berber carpet, then you are by all means a total expert in this situation. So don’t feel intimidated by the fact that you may not be a home staging guru to the stars. Rest assured that you can be an expert and provide value to your clients.

    In order to build your confidence and really feel like an expert, there are numerous things you can do to jumpstart your expert status, from teaching a course, having an article published in an industry magazine, or providing services to a high-profile client in your community.

    Whether you’re dreaming of consulting or are already running a business of your own, you probably know that gaining expert status can help you with building client relationships. That’s why we offer Six Tips for Jumpstarting Your Expert Status when you sign up for our newsletter.

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    Consultant training

    Consultant training can be an excellent option if you’re interested in becoming a consultant but aren’t sure where to begin. When you register to take consultant training there are numerous benefits–both personal and professional: 

    1. Meet like-minded people in consultant training

    Never under-estimate the power of connecting with like-minded people. Meeting like-minded people in consultant training can have two main benefits:

    Building your support network: Getting to know other people who have chosen a similar life path is key. You can support one another and expand your network at the same time.

    Potential clients and referrals: People love making recommendations and helping out new consultants. Other consultants can be a great source of new work, be it because they don’t offer the services that you do or if they have too much work and want to offload it to another qualified consultant.

    2. Get on the fast-track to success in consultant training

    Enrolling in consultant training can fast-track you to success. Avoid common mistakes, learn how to set your rates and much more. Consultant training gives you the inside scoop on how best to become a consultant.

    3. Identify mentors during consultant training

    Most consultants who offer consultant training also offer a coaching component that can be invaluable. In addition, other consultants can serve as mentors depending on their experience level and their willingness to share expertise. 

    Are you interested in registering for consultant training? Be sure to subscribe for the Consultant Journal newsletter to find out more about consultant training.

    Related posts:

     

    Following your heart

    Following your heart is where you want to be. When you follow your heart and your passions your chances of creating a successful business increase.

    Just like with anything in life, things become easier when you are following your heart. If your work aligns with your values and you genuinely enjoy what you do your passion shows.

    But following your heart doesn’t mean blindly going forward because you’ve got a passion. No, following your heart means aligning your skills with your passions. This concept simply means looking at what you’re great at and what you’re interested in. Fuse these two results together and you’ve got the makings of a career that could bring you more flexibility and self-satisfaction than you could hope for. It isn’t always easy, but the rewards are there when you follow your heart.

    Are you looking for support and guidance on following your heart to a new career as an independent consultant? Consider the following two programs that are designed to help you follow your heart to the consulting career of your dreams:

    Discover Your Inner Consultant: A Guide for Discovering What Consulting Business You Could Start – You’ve started thinking about becoming a consultant. Maybe you’ve mulled over a few ideas or maybe you’re stumped. But how do you choose a consulting business? How do you figure out what business would work best for you?

    Discover Your Inner Entrepreneur For Moms: A Guide for Discovering What Business You Could Start – Are you looking at combining kids and career? Maybe you’ve heard about moms who have their own businesses and you’re wondering if it would work for you. But how do you know if starting a business would work for you? How do you make sense of all the opportunities out there and find one that works for you?

    These two programs will help you drill down your passions and skills. Follow your heart to a new career today. You deserve to enjoy the work that you do!

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    7 reasons to use portable media in your business

    Aah, smart phones, iPhones, BlackBerries and Droids. Are you part of the portable media club? If not, here are 7 reasons to use portable media in your business:

    1. Stay connected

    Use portable media in your business and stay connected 24/7. Check in on your business no matter where you are and never miss important last minute emails.

    2. Maximize your efficiency

    Use portable media in your business and avoid wasting time waiting for meetings, flights or any other moment where you find yourself waiting with little to do. When you’ve got downtime–even a minute or two–you can plow through email, check your calendar, or check in on your business online. One of the main differences between portable media and traditional laptops is that with portable media you don’t have to wait for the long boot-up time that traditional laptops need. One touch on your smartphone wakes up your iPhone, BlackBerry or Droid in seconds.

    3. Be more active on social media

    Use portable media in your business to keep up with social media accounts, like Twitter and Facebook. Posting to social media is quick and easy on portable media, especially if you take advantage of social media apps. Checking in on social media is a great option when you’ve got a minute or two between appointments.

    4. Be on call for your clients

    Use portable media in your business and be accessible to your clients whenever you want to be accessible. Respond to emergency emails from wherever you are. But be careful. Being an independent consultant doesn’t necessarily mean being accessible 24/7. Be sure to set boundaries and give yourself “me” time during which it’s okay to let business emails sit unanswered. Work/life balance is key, after all.

    5. Access your data from anywhere

    Use portable media in your business and rest assured that you’ll never be without your important data. Email addresses, phone numbers, reminders and calendar appointments are all at your fingertips wherever you are.

    6. Consolidate your information

    Use portable media in your business and sync your smartphone to your home computer.  Automatic syncing of your information means that you’ll spend less time  transferring files back and forth and more time generating business.

    7. Personal perks

    Use portable media in your business and reap personal benefits, too. Out on the road for an evening? Want to make dinner reservations? Want to see what movies are playing at your local theatre? Check in on your portable media unit from anywhere.

    Are you interested in building your expert-status? Whether you’re dreaming of consulting or already running a business of your own, you probably know that gaining expert status can help you with building client relationships. That’s why we offer Six Tips for Jumpstarting Your Expert Status when you sign up for our newsletter.

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    Big data – the super hero consulting opportunity

    Big data offers a world of opportunity for consultants. Despite the boring moniker, big data can help turn you into a superhero – imagine preventing diseases, deterring terrorism and fighting crime. Well, with big data, you can do that. Big data refers to data sets so huge that they defy management by tools like databases. It’s hard to capture, store, search, analyze, visualize, share and interpret big data. Figure out how to help people do any of those tasks and you’re in business.

    Use 3D charts and graphs at your own risk

    3D bar charts and graphs may mess with the information you’re trying to convey. Find out what graphical data representation expert Naomi Robbins says about the risks.

    5 ways to use video cameras in your business

    Video cameras are becoming more common as quality increases and prices decrease. Here are 5 ways to use video cameras in your business:

    1. Tutorials

    Use video cameras in your business to create video tutorials on basic concepts related to your business. Clients will appreciate these tutorials, and on-camera tutorials can save you time and money because you may be able to provide video tutorials instead of in-person training.

    2. Social media / YouTube

    Use video cameras in your business to promote your products or services via social media. Create simple how-to videos that provide valuable information and position you or your organization as an expert at the same time. Cross-promote these videos at Youtube, Viddler and on other video sharing sites to increase your reach. You can even pull the audio from your videos and package the audio as free podcasts to be distributed on iTunes and elsewhere online.

    3. Insurance

    Use video cameras in your business to document your workspace and to provide evidence in the event of an emergency like a flood, fire, or theft.

    4. Client testimonials

    Use video cameras in your business to capture client testimonials. There is nothing more powerful than the endorsement of satisfied clients. When done professionally, on-camera client testimonials can have powerful impact on your business. If your camera skills aren’t up to par, consider outsourcing this project to video professionals.

    5. Interviews for information gathering

    Use video cameras in your business to aid in your requirements-gathering process. Not all clients will be receptive to being on film, but others will find being on camera an added bonus. And for you as a consultant, you’ll be able to refer back to important meetings and decisions for clarification.

    Are you interested in more tips on how to build your expert-status? Whether you’re dreaming of consulting or already running a business of your own, you probably know that gaining expert status can help you with building client relationships. That’s why we offer Six Tips for Jumpstarting Your Expert Status when you sign up for our newsletter.

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    10 ways to use digital cameras in your business

    10 ways to use digital cameras in your business:

    1. Document for insurance purposes

    Use digital cameras in your business to document your workspace for insurance purposes. Be sure to take photographs of your office detailing your business equipment and store the photographs in a safe place. These photographs could prove invaluable if a fire, flood or other disruption occurs at your home office or workplace.

    2. Enhance your blog posts and articles

    Use digital cameras in your business to enhance your business blog. Leave the photographs on your main website up to the professional photogaphers, but if you have a business blog use your digital camera to take relevant photos to enhance your blog posts. A picture is worth a thousand words!

    3. Add benefit to client meetings

    Use digital cameras in your business to enhance your client meetings. As a graphic design consultant, a client may indicate a color that he prefers or a logo idea based on an album cover or keychain. Having a digital camera at the ready will help you to capture the client’s desires digitally right then and there.

    4. Document your work flow and efficiencies 

    Use digital cameras in your business to document your work flow. Snap photos of your workspace as you work on a project. Notice piles of paper everywhere? A pattern of disorganization? Use the photographs to identify problems in your organization and make changes to improve your organization skills and efficiency.

    5. Take photos of milestones

    Use digital cameras in your business to document milestones. Get your first large cheque in the mail? Snap a photo. Land a superstar client? Take a picture of yourself with your big silly grin right after you hang up the phone. These photos make for great reminders and will help motivate you if you’re having a bad day.

    6. Take photos of important events and functions

    Use digital cameras in your business to capture notable events of interest to your clients. Did you sponsor a banner or table at a networking event? Did you win an award at a business networking award dinner? Taking photos of these notable events and posting them to your Facebook page, blog, email newsletter, website or other social media outlet will increase your brand power and status as an expert in your field.

    7. Enhance PowerPoint presentations

    Use digital cameras in your business to enhance your PowerPoint presentations. Sometimes stock photography is not enough. However, ensure that the quality of your photos is up to par. If your photographs are blurry or low-quality, stick with stock photography instead.

    8. Take mandatory photos

    Use digital cameras in your business because it may be a necessity. Taking your own photos may be necessary depending on your niche. For example, an environmental consultant may need to take photos of the terrain and adjacent areas to include in an environmental assessment or report.

    9. Use as a scanner in a pinch

    Use digital cameras in your business if your scanner goes on the fritz. In a pinch, a digital camera can serve as a scanner if needs be. The quality isn’t great, but taking a photograph of a document and emailing to a client is better than having to retype it manually.

    10. Create promotional or informational videos using still photography

    Use digital cameras in your business to create YouTube or other videos. Did you know that you can create effective videos by linking still photographs together? It’s very easy and can result in effective videos that combine photographs and overlaid text.

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    Making a great first impression

    Making a great first impression can make a big difference to your career. This guest post by Tim Grayling gives you 10 tips for making sure that first impression counts in your favour.

    Who cares what they say anyway?

    Are you paralyzed by what other people think? Are you afraid of being seen as a failure? Are you unable to live your dreams because of fear of criticism or because you’re afraid of what other people might think? We might not like to admit it, but we’ve all got fears.

    Fear is one of the primary reasons that people keep on doing what they’ve always done. Change is difficult. Change is scary. But change is also what is going to move you into new areas of your life. Without change, you won’t climb higher than you already are.

    Don’t wait for opportunities to fall into your lap, because they rarely do. Rather, you’ve got to make your own opportunities and design your own future – regardless of what other people think.

    If you’ve got a desire to give power to the entrepreneur within but are worried about what other people will think, stop worrying right now. Who cares what "they’ say? Whether you’re concerned about what your parents, coworkers or friends might think, the most important opinion that you should be giving credence to is your own.

    Of course, we all want support from those closest to us, like our spouses. But if there are relatively insignificant people in your life who don’t support your efforts, ask yourself how much value you should put on the opinions of people who may not have your best interest in mind.

    Seek support from those closest to you and gain confidence in your own goals by arming yourself with valid information and by connecting to others who are already achieving success in similar areas.

    And after all, who cares what "they" say anyway? At the end of the day it’s what you really think about your own life that matters.

    Are you looking for support and guidance on your journey to a new career? In addition to the over 900 free articles here on Consultant Journal, we offer products to help you when ready to seriously take the leap.

    Course and mentorship package:

    Become a Consultant: How to Make the Leap - With audio and written lessons, 25 exercises, discussion forums and more, you’ll have mentorship in your journey to consulting.

    Guidebooks for independent learners:

    Discover Your Inner Consultant: A Guide for Discovering What Consulting Business You Could Start – You’ve started thinking about becoming a consultant. Maybe you’ve mulled over a few ideas or maybe you’re stumped. But how do you choose a consulting business? How do you figure out what business would work best for you?

    Discover Your Inner Entrepreneur For Moms: A Guide for Discovering What Business You Could Start – Are you looking at combining kids and career? Maybe you’ve heard about moms who have their own businesses and you’re wondering if it would work for you. But how do you know if starting a business would work for you? How do you make sense of all the opportunities out there and find one that works for you?

    Consulting Fees: A Guide for Independent Consultants – Learn a system for setting consulting fees and maximize your earning potential. Set your rate and ask for it with confidence.

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    Welcome, Buffalo Law Journal readers

    Consultant Journal was recently featured in the Buffalo Law Journal. If this is your first time here, welcome!

    Some of the most popular pages on this site are listed over here to your right.

    And you can use the handy search tool to dig up specific topics.

    If you read the Buffalo Law Journal piece, you may be interested in this article on surviving feast or famine consulting cycles.

    By the way, if you sign up for our newsletter (3100 strong), you’ll get Six Tips for Jumpstarting Your Expert Status.

    Cheers!

    Giving power to the entrepreneur within

    Giving power to the entrepreneur within is something that many of us think about but few of us take action on. Whether it’s financial responsibilities, healthcare, our children, or one of the many other responsibilities that we face, sometimes the entrepreneur within gets snuffed out.

    There are many benefits to having a regular 9 to 5 job, which can make it difficult to leave the safe-zone of being employed by someone else. However, there are also benefits to unleashing your inner entrepreneur, including making a killer hourly rate and having the flexibility to live life on your own schedule.

    That being said, don’t give power to your entrepreneur within without taking the necessary steps to minimize your risk. Some of these steps may include securing a business line of credit before you leave your regular job, putting a substantial amount of savings aside to act as your buffer zone, doing plenty of research on your industry and connecting with successful people who are living the life that you want. Perhaps even consider seeking out a mentor who can guide you along your journey to giving power to the entrepreneur within.

    Whether you’re interested in becoming a small business consultant, becoming an independent consultant, or starting a new career that is uniquely yours, take action today by getting serious about planning for your future. Where do you want to be in five years and how are you going to get there?

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    Tell me about your business

    Have you started a consulting business? Even an itty bitty one? Have you grown the one you had? Tell me your story and how Consultant Journal has helped and I’ll consider you for a blog post, complete with a link to your website. One of the things I love about this blog is the opportunity to hear from people just like you. So many of you send emails. If you’d like to share your story with the wider world (and promote your business), contact me.

    Do a lot of moms start businesses?

    Earlier this week, I went to a business meeting. As part of my introduction, I mentioned that I have two businesses. At break time, a woman asked me about my work and asked if it was a “cottage business” so I could be home with my kids. I was stunned. I’ve had my business for 14 years, I have an MBA, and, yes, I have kids. I cannot even imagine anyone asking a man if his business was a “cottage business”.

    Help Consultant Journal provide better content in 2011

    Every year at this time, I review my business plans for the coming year. When I started Consultant Journal, it was just a personal blog – a way to describe my life as a consultant and perhaps help other people out. Over the years, I’ve had the privilege of helping other people start and run consulting businesses and I’ve also connected with many wonderful people who’ve helped me.

    Consultant Journal is important to me and it’s important that I help meet your needs as readers and community members. With that in mind, I’m embarking on my first survey.

    You can find the Consultant Journal survey at http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/GF5JG9R

    The point of the survey is to help me deliver the content and materials that best fit with the needs of readers. If you have any suggestions now or at any time, I welcome your feedback.

    Best wishes for a happy, prosperous 2011.

    Andrea

    5 ways to deal with being scared

    Having strategies to deal with being scared is crucial, because in life we experience a lot of fears. Be it fear of public speaking, fear about our businesses, or fear about starting over in a new career, you’ve got to have a strategy for dealing with feeling frightened. Take a look at the below ways to deal with being scared so that the next time you start to feel paralyzed by fear you’ve got a plan for moving yourself through fear into action.

    5 ways to deal with being scared – Getting specific

    1. Face your fear head on

    Fear is almost always about the unknown. Typically, we experience generalized fear about a certain topic, for example, you might experience fear related to possible failure if you decide to become a small business consultant. But don’t get overwhelmed by the first stage of general fear. Force yourself to move deeper into your fear and ask yourself, what is it that you are really afraid of? Get specific. Write your specific fears down, such as:

    • I am afraid I won’t make enough money as a small business consultant
    • I am afraid I will be exposed as not having enough knowledge to call myself an expert
    • I am afraid that no one will want to hire me
    • I am afraid that I will fail and be embarrassed in front of my friends and family

    2. Outline the worst case scenarios

    Next, take each of your fears and address them. What would the consequences be if your worst fears came true? Write the worst case scenario consequences down for each of your fears. For example:

    • I am afraid I won’t make enough money as a small business consultant (Consequence: I will lose my home, my car and my lifestyle)
    • I am afraid I will be exposed as not having enough knowledge to call myself an expert (Consequence: I will feel embarrassed and ashamed in front of a colleague or a client)
    • I am afraid that no one will want to hire me (Consequence: I will feel embarrassed and I won’t have any clients, which means I won’t be making any money)
    • I am afraid that I will fail and be embarrassed in front of my friends and family (Consequence: my family and friends will feel sorry for me and I may lose some esteem in their eyes)

    3. Own the worst-case consequences

    Part of moving through your fear and getting out on the other side is to know that you can handle the worst case scenarios of all your fears. Take each "consequence" above and picture it happening. What would you do if the worst case consequence happened? How would you handle the worst case consequence? How would your life be impacted?

    For the majority of our fears, the worst case scenario is usually not even that bad in the first place. Quite often, worst case scenarios simply involve feeling embarrassed. Generally, once we "own" the "worst" consequences we realize that the consequences are not as serious as we were making them out to be.

    Further, 95% of our fears never even come true!

    4. Create preventive solutions

    Now that you’ve "owned" the worst possible results and faced the realities of your fear, you can do your best to prevent the negative consequences from occurring, where possible.

    5. Set up your support system

    Lastly, don’t ever think that you can go it alone. No matter how strong or intelligent we are, we are always in need of support. Friends, families, mentors and even neighbors are important pillars that will help you when the going gets rough.

    Remember, it’s okay to be scared. In fact, fear can be a good thing. Fear can mean that you’re pushing yourself to try something new and that you’re out of your comfort zone. Don’t let fear paralyze you or keep you from achieving your goals. Use these 5 ways to deal with being scared and tackle your fears today.

    Related posts:

    How I overcame fear of public speaking

    What are your biggest fears about your business?

    Do you need to like public speaking to sell?

    7 reasons to pay attention when something doesn’t fit

     

    5 ways to help define success for yourself

    If you’re already achieving success, it can be easy to sit back and keep on doing what you’ve always done. But don’t get complacent. Challenge yourself and your business to implement these 5 ways to help define success for yourself.

    1. Go after more desirable clients

    Don’t just wait for clients to come to you. Consider who you’d like to work with and make it your mission to make that person your client. You’ll be amazed at how your business can change when you start selecting who you’d like to work with — rather than simply accepting the clients who find you.

    2. Teach a course

    Are you passionate about your work? Would you like to spread that passion with young minds or likeminded entrepreneurs? Consider teaching a course, offering a workshop or making a presentation to your local business networking organization. You’ll be challenging yourself, sharing knowledge, marketing yourself and building your expert status all at the same time!

    3. Diversify your income streams

    Are you a consultant? To rev up your business, why not try something new and diversify your income streams? Don’t give up your bread and butter, but why not consider creating passive income streams for yourself?

    4. Become a mentor

    Remember what it was like when you were just starting out in entrepreneurship? Couldn’t you have used a guiding hand and someone to talk to who has been through it all? Consider becoming a mentor. It’s satisfying and rewarding at the same time.

    5. Success isn’t always about business

    Success in business can mean running a company that allows you to stay home with your children or take extended vacations. Success can mean better work/life balance or heading up a consultancy that actually makes the world a better place.

    Success is whatever you want it to be.

    No matter where you are in your career, try to incorporate these 5 ways to help define success for yourself into your daily and weekly routines. Don’t get complacent or cave in to fear. Take your life to the next level!

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    Holiday card alternatives

    Every year, I send my clients, vendors and business partners holiday cards. It’s a great way to say "thank you". In recent years, I’ve shifted to New Year’s cards, when people are back in the office and a little more ready to actually spend a moment or two on reading the card. Plus it avoids offending anyone who doesn’t celebrate holidays in December — just about everyone is okay with New Year’s.

    As a green-thinking, home-based business owner who strives to reduce waste, I’ve been wondering if I should give up holiday cards and move to an alternative. A few businesses I know send out electronic cards — but they’re ad agencies and graphic designers, so you can imagine just how fabulous those are. I’ve also thought about donating what I would have spent on cards.

    However, I just started a donation team at Kiva. Kiva allows people to make microloans – really tiny loans — to people in other parts of the world. You can help someone buy inventory for their business, buy a motorcycle to use as a taxi, buy a stove, expand their house, go to school — there are tons of options. See http://www.kiva.org/team/consultant_journal. If you’d like to join the team, please do so! It’s $25 to get started and the wonderful thing about making microloans is that, when you’re paid back, you can donate the money again (or pocket it, if you need to!). I’ve been making loans for a few years now and I’ve helped families throughout the world. I love making Kiva loans and encourage you to consider it, whether you’re sending out holiday cards or not.

    Still interested in holiday cards? See:

    5 reasons to listen to your inner voice

    Your inner voice lets you know when something isn’t right – and it makes sense to pay attention.

    7 reasons to pay attention when something doesn’t fit

    Whether it’s your job, your family life, or another element in your life that isn’t working out, there are always signs–if you pay attention. But the question is, what are you going to do about the signs that are telling you that something in your life isn’t working?

    Here are 7 reasons to pay attention when something doesn’t fit:

    1. Your life – your future

    There comes a time when we have to take responsibility for our lives and our futures. This is your life! Design it how you want it to be. Don’t let "how you’ve always done things" dictate how you’re going to do things from now on.

    2. There is a better way

    A job doesn’t have to feel like a job. Sure, there will always be hard work and it isn’t always easy, but there is a better way.

    You can start a business that is inline with your values and your needs. Flexible work schedules, more personal satisfaction, and better compensation are all possible.

    Stop and think about it for a minute. What would be on your bucket list? Could you become an independent consultant?

    3. The sooner you start, the sooner you’ll be on the road to success

    Businesses grow over time. If you nurture your business now, you’ll be planting seeds that will continue to grow over time.

    4. Your family deserves the best you

    When you’re happy, the people around you know it. Don’t your spouse, your friends, your children and your family deserve the best you? 

    (Not to mention the fact that you deserve to be as happy as you can be!)

    5. Trust your intuition

    Our minds and bodies are incredibly in tune with our emotions. When you feel that something doesn’t fit, odds are that it doesn’t fit.

    Listen to those feelings and take action on them. But don’t do something crazy. Take action now — today — by setting goals and getting serious about the changes you want to make in your life.

    6. Value yourself

    Are you in a position that doesn’t reflect what you’re capable of? Design your own career and achieve everything that you know you can do.

    7. It’s never too late

    It’s never too late to try something new. Repeat after me: it’s never too late to try something new!

    A wise thinker once said, "The best day to plant a tree was twenty years ago. The second best day is today."

    Are these 7 reasons to pay attention when something doesn’t fit striking any chords with you? Are you ready to take the leap into a new field?

    Want help in making the transition to consulting? Enroll in the official Consultant Journal course — Become a Consultant: How to Make the Leap. With audio and written lessons, 25 exercises, discussion forums and more, you’ll have mentorship in your journey to consulting.

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    How to succeed as a financial consultant

    ” How to succeed as a financial consultant” is a guest post from Neil R. Williams. He’s a financial consultant by profession and a writer in the finance niche. He consults people on personal finance issues such as on debt problems, credit repair, debt settlement and so. He has articles posted in many financial blogs or sites. The following article is his opinion.

    Shop online and support Consultant Journal

    I started Consultant Journal several years ago with the aim of helping people understand how to start, run and grow consulting businesses. Over the years it has grown. I’d love to bring more content, more tools and more community to this site.

    If you’re doing holiday shopping anyway, you can click through our Amazon link and Consultant Journal will receive a small commission. It doesn’t matter what you buy: holiday cards, books, gift cards, clothes, toys, anything really!

    Click the banner here to go to Amazon:

     

    What is business? 1948 view

    What is business? Well, here’s a 1948 instructional video to tell you all about it.

     

    I wrote a post, What is business?, on this subject last year. But there’s just something kinda kitschy and fun about this 1948 educational video…where we see "Mother" and Joan waving to "Father" as he sets off in the car to go to work, seeing as business creates the livelihood for most of the working population. I suppose "Mother" just sits around on her chair and the apron’s just a decoration and the kids take care of themselves, of course. And Mother most certainly wasn’t running off to grab her Tupperware or Avon consultant kits or even bake up some apple pie once the kids were at school. But I digress!

     

    My business lets me prioritize my values

    People often hear that I have a business and an MBA and assume I have this meat grinder mindset, where it’s all business, all about money and everything’s very unemotional. But that’s till they get to know me. Anybody who knows me knows that my business really reflects my values. And that, because I have a business, I can drop everything to focus on my values when I need to do so.

    How to become a business owner

     How to become a business owner – wondering how?

    The first step to discovering how to be a business owner is deciding that becoming a business owner is right for you. The way to decide whether owning a business is something you should pursue is to invest the time and energy in understanding what it takes to become a business owner.

    Thankfully, research regarding how to become a business owner doesn’t have to be passive or boring. In fact, researching can be as easy as considering what type of business you’d like to own and then immersing yourself in that business: by speaking to those already in the business, reading about the industry or simply launching your own business as a side-job.

    That’s right, if you’re wondering how to become a business owner one of the easiest and most valuable things you can do is to start your own business as a second job. In fact, starting a business doesn’t have to be expensive.  When you run a business as a side-job, you’re gaining valuable knowledge and first-hand experience in what it takes to become a business owner without having to give up the stability, benefits and other perks of your current day job. Once your business is up and running, you can take the leap to running your business full-time.

    Still wondering how to become a business owner and run your own business? Consider consulting. Why? Because consulting is one of the quickest and simplest businesses to start, consulting offers flexible hours and it’s lucrative. Want to learn more about the type of consulting business you can start that takes advantage of your skills and competencies? Check out the Consultant Journal store for insider tips on how to jumpstart your consulting career.

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    Be the Greatest Thing Since Sliced Bread

    Positioning yourself as an expert can give your career and your business a boost. After all, when you’re a trusted authority, people are more likely to seek you out and to refer you to others. Whether you’re in business or simply a professional career, figuring out just how to build your expert status can give you an edge.

    Me on CBC discussing Toyota Highlander ad series

    Here’s the audio for my interview on CBC yesterday. As mentioned earlier this week, I was on the air discussing the Toyota Highlander ad series.

    Looking for a career change

    Looking for a career change? Stop scanning the classified ads and start considering whether you’ve looked in all the right places for your career change. Have you considered creating your own career? Have you considered becoming a consultant? When looking for a career change, many skilled employees don’t stop to consider whether consulting could be the lucrative, exciting career they’ve been looking for.

    If you’re looking for a career change now is  the perfect time to start thinking out of the box. What do you really want out of your career? What do you value? Perhaps working full-time outside the home works for you and your value system. But for many people, working as a consultant satisfies many unfulfilled opportunities, such as work/life balance.

    When looking for a career change, it’s important to understand what you like about your current position and what you would change about your current career. If you’re looking for more excitement, more flexibility and more satisfaction, consulting may be for you.

    Looking for a career change? Don’t take that next job until you’ve fully considered what’s important to you.

    Think consulting might be what you’re looking for but not sure where to start? Consider checking out the Consultant Journal store, which includes links to products that help you determine which type of consulting business to start (for everybody or for moms in particular), how to set your consulting fees, and an online course that helps you jumpstart your consulting career.

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    Toyota Highlander ad series review

    Toyota Highlander ad series — I’m posting the extended versions of several ads here. On Tuesday on CBC Radio, I’m going to be discussing the Toyota Highlander ad series where the cute blond boy proclaims: “Just because you’re a parent, doesn’t mean you have to be lame.”
    In advance, here are some clips of the Toyota Highlander ad series.

    Repositioning for higher earnings

    Could you be making more doing something else? It’s a question I encourage entrepreneurs to ask from time to time. While you want to be on target with your goals – business and personal – it sometimes makes sense to examine the ways in which you meet those goals. Sometimes, you can build a new revenue stream or even ramp up your current earnings simply by making a few changes.

    Let’s say you’re a math tutor. You make $30 to $50 per hour, although you have to travel to the homes of your students. You’re also stuck working from 3 pm to 9pm, when your students are home from school. Could you make more doing something else? Is there another line of work that will deliver higher consulting fees for doing essentially the same thing?
     
    Well, let’s say you repositioned. You know you’re strong in assessing client needs, planning how to deliver information, coaching and mentoring, and managing the client relationship. You’re also obviously strong with math. What if you repositioned to provide math skills building for the business market? Let’s say you repositioned to create a side business that delivers math education for business leaders. You could:
    • Create a continuing education course called “10 ways to increase business profits with better math skills”
    • Develop a half-morning seminar called “Math smarts for non-techies” and pitched it to marketers, HR professionals, communicators and other non-math professionals
    • Build “scoreboards” to help professionals measure success in marketing, HR and other areas
    • Offer coaching for executives who want to be able to think on their feet in meetings and do math in their heads, so that they can make better business decisions
    • Run your own GMAT prep numeracy courses for people who want to get into MBA programs
    All those programs would most likely command far more than $30 to $50 per hour. In fact, with a little planning, you could be billing hundreds of dollars per hour. And you’d pretty much be doing what you already do.
     
    So, could you be making more doing something else? Do you have an inner consultant in another area, just waiting to be unleashed?
     
    Related
     
    Do you offer services to consultants? Check out our consultant service directory listings.

    Reinvention Summit & Free Ebook

    I just got an email about the world’s first Virtual Summit on the future of storytelling – The Reinvention Summit.

    Desk jobs and joint aches, pains and health

    If you work at your desk all day, you may not always sit in the best position. And that can leave your joints feeling sore. I recently wrote about joint health for BC Living Magazine and thought I’d share the article: Boning up on joint health.

    Over the years, I’ve had problems with joint pains and joint health. I was in a car accident that gave me whiplash and thus knee pain, back pain, hip pain, nech pain, arm pain — you name it! Because I’m unable to take ibuprofen and I found myself pregnant or nursing during much of that time, I had to turn to natural treatments and natural joint pain solutions. For me, hot baths, physiotherapy, ice and heat, exercise, muscle training, Tylenol, mindfulness and other natural approaches were really my only options. I also chose a more ergonomic chair and made sure that I held my neck and body in good positions.

    Do you have joint pain?

    Become an independent consultant

    Become an independent consultant – start your journey with our answers to what consultants do, what skills they have, how they get into the field and why you’d want to join them.

    The tragic life and death of Pets.com

    Pets.com died a miserable death just 10 years ago this week. Back in 1999, Pets.com was one of the hallmarks of the dot-com era and its death signified the dot-com crash. The

    Have the confidence to see yourself as an expert

    Have the confidence to see yourself as an expert. When thinking about whether to become an independent consultant, you may wonder whether you can really bill yourself as an expert.

    Don’t get bogged down in the concept of being the absolutely best. Understand that there will always be someone who knows more than you about your industry. But you certainly know more than most people, and that’s what your clients value about you–to your clients, you are an expert. Have the confidence to see yourself as an expert.

    For example, as a jury consultant, you know more about jury behaviour than almost all of the population. True, there may be a superstar jury consultant who has more experience than you, but you know a lot. Be confident and focus on what you do know.

    The key is to have the confidence to see yourself as an expert by building your expert status in concrete ways. Wondering how? Subscribe to Consultant Journal’s newsletter and receive Six Tips for Jumpstarting Your Expert Status when you sign up.

    Above all, you’ve got to have the confidence to see yourself as an expert. Have confidence in yourself and your clients will too.  Are you confident enough to consult?

    Your confidence will grow over time. Give your confidence a boost and start building your expert status now.

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    Starting a consulting firm

    Starting a consulting firm can become a reality. Have you always dreamed of starting a consulting firm? Stop dreaming and start planning. Soon enough you too can start a consulting company.

    Starting a consulting firm can be broken down into a few key steps:

    1. Choose your niche

    Starting a consulting firm begins with a niche. What type of consultant will you be?

    2. Choose your clients

    The more specific your client base is the easier it will be to market your services. Choose your clients.

    3. Set up your office

    Whether you’re starting a consulting firm that’s home-based or out in the public eye, you’ll want a clear, clean place to work. Set up your office.

    4. Start marketing

    Starting a consulting firm means getting your name out there. Understand your market and start marketing your services. Want to know the secret to marketing your consulting company? It’s all about relationships.

    5. Start consulting

    Once you’ve landed your first client, do your best work. Pull out all the stops, because your existing and past clients are your number one priority. They will give you referrals and they could end up coming back to you again and again. Start consulting!

    Starting a consulting firm can become a reality. Whether you’re planning on jumping in with two feet starting a consulting firm from scratch or whether you’d like to start slow and keep your day job, it can be done.

    Are you looking for mentorship to help you get started? Consider registering for the Become a Consultant: How to Make the Leap course. With audio and written lessons, 25 exercises, discussion forums and more, you’ll have mentorship in your journey to consulting.

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    Do consultants charge tax?

    Do consultants charge tax? It’s a legitimate question. Whether or not consultants charge tax depends on many factors.

    Your location – Do consultants charge tax?

    In order to determine whether you should be charging tax as a consultant, make sure you’re heeding advice that pertains to your own country and state or province. If you’re in the United States, the easiest way to determine whether to charge tax is to contact the Internal Revenue Service, as well as your state. If you’re in Canada, contact Service Canada and your provincial government.

    Don’t simply go by what other consultants are charging. Get tax information straight from the source.

    Your client’s location – Do consultants charge tax?

    Whether you charge tax will also depend on the location of your clients. If you offer services over the web you may have to charge different taxes to different clients depending on their location.

    Your services – Do consultants charge tax?

    The type of taxes you charge may depend on the type of services you offer. Once again, get guidance straight from the source! Be sure to clearly indicate which services are taxable on your invoice.

    Your income – Do consultants charge tax?

    The taxes you must charge may depend on your income. Because your income will change over time, be sure to reevaluate your taxation policies on a semi-annual basis.

    As you can see, the answer to whether you should charge tax depends on your location, your client’s location, the type of services you provide and your income. When in doubt, contact the government in your area or seek advice from your financial advisor regarding whether to charge taxes.

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    Major update to Consulting Fees guide

    Today, I’m excited to announce the launch of the second edition of Consulting Fees: A Guide for Independent Consultants. I’ve completely overhauled the original guide and expanded it to 124 pages. To help you move your businesses to the next level, I’ve added a major section on Solution-Based Fees, which includes help in overcoming any emotional blocks you may have in charging fees that represent the value of the solutions you offer.

    Independent consultant rates

    Independent consultant rates are something that all consultants are curious about. What should your independent consultant rates be? How much are your peers and competition charging? Are your independent consultant rates to low or too high?

    Setting your rates as a consultant is crucial. Charge too little, and you’re short-changing yourself and making it more difficult to succeed as a consultant. Charge too much, and you might find it difficult to get off the ground when you become an independent consultant.

    If you’re charging independent consultant rates you want to feel confident in what you’re charging. And how do you gain confidence in your fee structure? Confidence and knowledge are intertwined. You want to understand the rationale behind your rates and understand what you offer your clients.

    I’ve written countless articles on this topic, as well as a comprehensive book that will help you learn a system for setting consulting fees: Consulting Fees – A Guide for Independent Consultants.

    Remember, as a consultant, there is almost nothing more important than your rate. Independent consultant rates send a message about your value and can mean the difference between success and financial freedom.

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    Consulting fee formula models

    Consulting fee formula calculations may feel daunting. But feeling confident about your consulting fee formula and model can make a huge difference to your business. When you feel certain about the approach you’re taking to setting fees, you’re in a better position to deal with clients who want you to knock off a few dollars, increase the scope or simply not pay at all.

    Tips for your consulting fee formula

    The following consulting fee formula article can help you work through various models for setting fees. But, more than anything, reviewing the entire way you build, market and deliver your business services may help you in the long run. As mentioned in Consulting Fees: A Guide for Independent Consultants, your emotions and self confidence tie into the money you make in the long run. Regardless of the formula you use to set your consulting rate, you have to feel secure.

    Side jobs and second jobs

    Side jobs and second jobs are more common than you think. Side jobs and second jobs aren’t just held by those struggling to make ends meet. No, side jobs and second jobs are held by people from all income brackets, including managers, teachers, and top-level executives.

    Why would employed people want to take on side jobs and second jobs? For example, you may have a hobby that costs a lot of money. But what if, instead, you chose side jobs and second jobs as your hobby? You’d be eliminating the costs associated with your hobby and replacing the costs with an income!

    There are many reasons to have side jobs and second jobs:

    • To earn extra income to pay down debt, go on vacations, etc.
    • To gain experience in an industry that interests you
    • To spend your free-time in a productive way
    • To offer you job satisfaction
    • To replace a hobby
    • To work towards a transition to a full-time career change

    If you’re interested in making some extra income, building your own business and working from home, side jobs and second jobs may be perfect for you. Check out this list of ideas for second jobs.

    Of course, you could always consider whether you want to become an independent consultant as your side job. Consulting is a common idea for side jobs and second jobs because as a consultant you can earn a very high hourly wage. If you want to find out more about what it takes to become a consultant, check out the becoming a consultant FAQs.

    Check out my book on Side Jobs:

     Side Jobs - Second Jobs, Side Gigs & Part-time Businesses Ebook

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    What to do during downtime

    What to do during downtime is a common question to ask after you become an independent consultant. As a consultant you may find yourself in a feast or famine work cycle where you are very busy at some times and in a lull during other times.

    When in a lull you may wonder what to do during downtime. Of course, downtime can be a great time to catch up on your personal life, take a breather, ramp up your marketing, reorganize your office or catch up on old business. In fact, a friend wanted to become a small business consultant, and she now spends her downtime meeting with small business owners in her community.

    But when I think about downtime I think about diversifying my income, and I tend to work on passive income projects.

    Passive income is income that doesn’t require any additional work on your part. In other words, "passive" income is not directly tied to your time or energy (hence the concept of "passive" income). Generally, passive income refers to something that can be sold over and over without any additional effort on your part.

    Some examples of passive income are:

    • Selling advertising on a website
    • Selling e-books
    • Selling software
    • Selling graphic design templates
    • Selling digital art, such as icons
    • Selling packaged digital goods
    • Earning referral fees

    What to do during downtime is up to you. But if you know more projects are around the corner and you don’t need to be hitting the pavement marketing your services, I encourage you to think about building passive income streams.

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    30 things I love about being a parent entrepreneur

    A list of 30 things I love about being a parent entrepreneur.

    Even I have my days

    I’ve been a consultant for more than 13 years. I love consulting and I love helping other people get into it. Heck, I’ve written hundreds of articles on consulting for this site. I’d have to love what I do to pump out that much content! But even I have my days.

    Become an independent consultant

    Learn from our seven steps to becoming an independent consultant. Find out how to get on the path – and support your journey with our 1,000 articles on the world of indie consulting.

    Digital cameras for business

    Digital cameras for business are becoming increasingly common. Many large organizations have digital cameras in office, and that goes for consultants, too.

    Digital cameras can be used for many business purposes, including taking photos to include in presentations and proposals, to document change, to capture people and ideas and to promote products or services. Many smartphones have digital cameras built right into them, and smartphones can be great to snap quick pictures as reminders. But if you plan to use your photos for public consumption, opting for a high quality digital camera–perhaps even a digital SLR camera–is wise.

    Professionals should have a dedicated digital camera for business use instead of using a personal camera for both home and business use. Why? Because if you’re sharing one camera for both purposes you’ll never have the camera when you need it: when you want your camera at home it’ll be at the office, and vice versa.  However, if you work from home, distinguishing business versus personal is not as important. If you do buy a digital camera to use in your business, don’t forget to consider the tax benefits of your purchase.

    What do you think about digital cameras for business? Are digital cameras for business necessary? How do you use digital cameras for business purposes?

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    Become a small business consultant

    Become a small business consultant today and enjoy the benefits and freedom of being a consultant.

    What is a small business consultant? A small business consultant is an independent consultant who helps other small businesses thrive by offering advice and an outsider perspective.

    Here are the top questions about how to become a small business consultant.


    1. Who should become a small business consultant?

    Unlike some consulting niches, small business consultants come from varied backgrounds and certification is not required. Invariably, though, small business consultants should have experience working (or studying) successful small businesses.

    Small business consultants need to have an understanding of the following areas:

    • Defining small businesses
    • Growing small businesses
    • Attracting customers
    • Identifying problems and proposing solutions
    • Business strategies
    • Marketing strategies

    2. How long does it take to become a small business consultant?

    The length of time it takes to become a small business consultant can vary greatly. Being a small business consultant means developing a rapport with small businesses. The length of time it takes to attract clients depends on your network, marketing skills, expertise, social skills, confidence, expertise and many other factors. Check out this article that explains how long it takes to become a consultant.

    3. What are the benefits of being a small business consultant?

    Besides the basic benefits of being a consultant, small business consultants report high levels of job satisfaction because they help small businesses grow and witness the changes firsthand.

    4. I’ve decided to become a small business consultant. Now what?

    In order to become a small business consultant you’ve got to take the leap! If you’ve done all your research and you think you’re ready to become a small business consultant, then you’re ready to start building your expert status. Want to know how to build your expert status as a small business consultant? Subscribe to Consultant Journal’s newsletter and receive Six Tips for Jumpstarting Your Expert Status when you sign up.

    Want help in making the transition to consulting? Enroll in the official Consultant Journal course — Become a Consultant: How to Make the Leap. With audio and written lessons, 25 exercises, discussion forums and more, you’ll have mentorship in your journey to consulting.

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    Average consulting rates

    Average consulting rates vary from industry to industry. If you’re pondering average consulting rates, you probably need to finetune your search. Here’s how…

    Back to school time for business owners

    Ah, it’s the Friday before the last long weekend of summer here in Canada. We have Labour Day on Monday. Then, on Tuesday, it’s back to school time for my kids. I’ve been racing around trying to get booster shots, make appointments with the principal and teacher, source new BPA/lead/PVC-free lunch containers, go to meet and greets and so on. But, in the midst of all this, I haven’t forgotten myself or my own business.

    You see, I see the fall as back to school time for my business too. Going into September, I’m reviewing my progress on my goals for the second half of 2010. I’m setting up a meeting with my mentor. And I’m scheduling meetings with my entrepreneur’s group, going to a few professional association meetings and perhaps taking part in a few panel discussions. Soon enough, I’ll be plowing into some reading too. I don’t know about your part of the world, but everybody slows down in August here in Vancouver.

    If you’re looking to hit the books for your consulting business, take a look at our Discover Your Inner Consultant and Consulting Fees ebooks and our Become a Consultant ecourse.

    Average consultant fees

    Average consultant rates tend to be, well, typical. If you’re hiring or working as an average consultant rates should be lacklustre – because, well, they’re average! What’s more important is the value provided by the consultant.

    Work out your hourly rate

    Work out your hourly rate considering all the important factors and it could mean the difference between just scraping by versus making a sizable income.

    In order to work out your hourly rate you have to consider more than the going rate. Really, you should be thinking about your overall fee structure and the way you want to charge for your expertise. Rather than try to work out your hourly rate, first consider all the options:

    • Set fees based on the project;
    • Set fees based on performance;
    • Work out your hourly rate and charge by the hour;
    • Set consulting fees by using real-life data.
    • Among other options.

    Instead of wondering how to work out your hourly rate, consider other methods of charging for your time and expertise. Which method will work best for you? Which method works best for your industry? How do other consultants in your niche bill?

    Even if you do work out an hourly rate, be sure you’re considering all the relevant costs that consultants occur.

    If it’s time to work out your hourly rate, first consider purchasing my guidebook to make sure you’re covering all the bases: Consulting Fees: A Guide for Independent Consultants. Remember, you’re worth it, and your rates should reflect that.

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    Kid health insurance plans

    Kid health insurance plans – if you’ve got kids, you may wonder about what sort of health insurance plan you should be looking at. If you’re in the process of evaluating plans that provide health coverage for your children, consider the following:

    Average IT consulting rates – tips and tricks

    Average IT consulting rates may be part of doing your due diligence. If you’re looking for average IT consulting rates, you have to first identify your goals in seeking it.

    Best request for award nomination ever

    This email from Kerri Carlson about running Every Woman in the World and juggling parenthood isone of the most hilarious, moving and accurate portrayals of being a parent entrepreneur ever!

    When you should subcontract?

    Dear Consultant Journal:

    I’ve been running my consulting business for a few years now. I have established a network and I get a lot of leads. And sometimes I’m working on project teams where I know that, if I was in the lead, I could be managing some of the vendors. How do you know when you should start subcontracting?

    - A.L.

    Dear A.L.:

    Ultimately, it’s up to you and the amount of measured risk you’re willing to take. But learning to subcontract can be very rewarding. For example, the founder of this site, Andrea Coutu, grew her freelance writing business into a strategic management consulting firm, which means she doesn’t have to be there 24/7 to be making money. The great thing about involving other people is that you don’t have to do EVERYTHING yourself, you don’t have to know everything and you don’t have to be be working on that project to be making money from it. It’s unfortunate that many freelancers and consultants feel compelled to do all the work themselves and then end up working MORE than they ever wanted to. If you start subcontracting, you might find that "risk" gives you more control!

    Check out seven signs that tell it’s time to start subcontracting.

    Personal inventory – taking stock of yourself

    Personal inventory taking a.k.a. taking stock of your unique attributes can help you determine your future in self employment. Your personal inventory can help you figure out how your skills, experiences, strengths, weaknesses, goals and interests all fit together. By getting a better sense of your personal inventory, you can figure out who you are and what you have to offer – and just how self employment might fit into that.

    Personal inventory can launch your dreams

    Many people dream of self employment, but freeze up when it comes to actually doing something about it. That’s understandable. Not every dream needs to be explored. But taking the time to figure out what your dreams are and how who you are fits into those dreams can help you uncover your potential. And a personal inventory can help you explore who you are in depth.
     

    Personal inventory can help with overcoming obstacles

    Moreover, by taking the time to work through your dreams and interests, you may discover solutions to problems you thought were unsolvable. For example, some people worry about letting go of their day jobs, so, for them, starting a side business may be the best option. Others worry about carrying all the weight on their own shoulders, so they seek out business partners, joint venture partners and mentors. Still others get nervous about income fluctuation, so they build up solid emergency funds.
     
    A personal inventory can help you get a strong sense of who you are, so you can build an action plan to achieve your dreams. And that confidence will serve you in good stead, whatever path you pursue.
     
    If you’d like to work through a personal inventory, consider our Discover Your Inner Consultant or, for parents, Discover Your Inner Entrepreneur (for Moms).
     

    Related to personal inventory

     

    What to charge for consulting – 5 starting points

    Knowing what to charge for consulting can be tricky if you haven’t got a plan. But, with a little research and planning, you’ll be able to work out what to charge for consuting fees — and say it with confidence.

    Debt snowball method

    Debt snowball method — have you heard of it? The debt snowball method is a simple debt management strategy that combines psychological motivation with an effective debt reduction strategy.

    Debts can feel overwhelming, especially when you have multiple creditors each seeking their minimum payments. But the debt snowball method may help you feel in control of your finances.

    In a nutshell, the debt snowball method works as follows:

    • Make all of your required minimum payments on all of your loans every month;
    • List all of your loans from lowest amount owing to highest amount owing;
    • Funnel all extra and available income to the loan on which you owe the least amount of money (Loan A). Continue doing so until Loan A is paid off.
    • Once Loan A (your smallest loan) has been paid off, choose the next smallest loan (Loan B) and funnel all available income into that debt.  But there’s one more key step…
    • Remember the minimum payment that you used to pay into Loan A, but you don’t have to pay it anymore because Loan A has been eliminated? Well, set aside that minimum payment amount, but commit that payment every single month to Loan B instead.
    • Continue until all debts have been eliminated.

    The appeal of the debt snowball method is that, by choosing to pay off your smallest debts first, you see results, which motivate you to stay with your debt elimination strategy.

    The debt snowball method isn’t necessarily the wisest debt reduction strategy. In fact, I generally recommend paying off loans with the highest interest rate first. However, many people choose the debt snowball method for loans that have similar interest rates.

    You may want to supplement your debt reduction strategy with a second job, consulting, financial restrictions or other measures that will help you make significant inroads in your debt load.

    The debt snowball method is an often-recommended strategy because of its simplicity and its efficacy. Consider all the options and then choose the debt management strategy that works best for you.

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    Building credit for your small business

    Building credit for your small business is important because you never know when you’ll want access to more funds, be it for expansion or to help out in a pinch. And what better time to think about building credit for your small business than now,  because credit is easier to build when you’re riding the wave of success.

    Building credit for your small business is similar to building personal credit; however there are a few key distinctions:

    Clear distinction between business and personal

    Even if you run your business as a sole-proprietorship, be sure to clearly distinguish your business and personal finances. You’ll want to demonstrate a clear paper trail of your business’s financial transactions, including all income and expenditures. This may include opening a business bank account and even a business credit card.Having corroborating documentation is key. For instance, if you pay all of your expenses with a small business credit card, you’ll have monthly statements to document your business expenses, but you’ll still want keep receipts and invoices as well.

    Business credit card

    Most credit cards charge exorbitant interest rates so avoid using them to carry debts. However, business credit cards that are used frequently and paid off to zero every month can be a great way to start building business credit for your small business. Get a business credit card today and start building your credit rating.

    Apply for a line of credit

    Ideally, apply for a line of credit before you start your business. Remember, having access to a new business line of credit doesn’t mean you have to use it. So consider building credit for your small business now because it’s better to be prepared than to have to scramble in the event of an emergency.

    Overcoming bad personal credit

    Building business credit is not a substitute for a personal history of bad credit. Business creditors will take your personal credit into account, so continue improving your personal credit while building your business credit. In fact, consulting can be a flexible way to get out of debt.

    Building credit for your small business

    Building credit for your small business is similar to building personal credit. Show a clear history of timely payments on products like lines of credit and credit cards, and you’ll be on your way to building credit for your small business.

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    How to become a consultant in your own field

    How to become a consultant in your own field — it’s a question on the mind of many. Figuring out how to become a consultant in your own field can help you achieve dreams, such as financial independence, flexibility, balance, control and self empowerment.

    If you’re wondering about becoming a consultant, you may be interested in the 2,000 free articles here at Consultant Journal. To get started, take a look at:

    Bluetooth products and your business

    You may have heard Bluetooth a few times – maybe you even ownsome Bluetooth products. But do you know what Bluetooth means? Bluetooth is a way of exchanging data over short distances.

    Commercial Equity Line of Credit (CELOC) may help your business

    Commercial Equity Line of Credit, known for short as CELOC, can help small businesses – especially start ups. A commercial equity line of credit (CELOC) allows a business to borrow money on a regular basis so that they can finance their business. Usually, you can just write out a check when you need the money. It’s an operating loan where you can just borrow what you need as you need it.

    Debt consolidation loan calculators – how they can help you

    Debt consolidation loan calculator sites are all over the web. If you’re in debt, it’s worth looking at what these debt consolidation calculator sites would suggest your monthly payments could be.

    Bad credit debt consolidation loan

    Bad credit debt consolidation loans are a good idea if the numbers work. However, bad credit debt consolidation loans are not the only option for getting out of debt.

    In order to figure out if a bad credit debt consolidation loan is right for you, you need to get a sense of your overall financial picture.

    Most people who struggle with debt dislike thinking about money. Of course, it can be easy to feel overwhelmed when being hounded by creditors. But if you can set aside a few hours to consider your financial future you can save yourself hundreds of dollars per month. Stick with me here. You can do this.

    Grab a piece of paper, your telephone, a phone book, and a calculator. Write down how much you owe to each creditor, write down the interest rate, and write down your minimum monthly payment, including credit cards. If you don’t know what the interest rate is, call your creditor and find out.

    Bad credit debt consolidation loans are usually in order if you are unable to make all of your monthly minimum payments. Bad credit debt consolidation loans are simple: a debtor buys all of your loans, pays them off, and then you owe the debtor and can pay the debtor one monthly payment.

    However, bad credit debt consolidation loans are not the only option. The debt-snowball method is another idea that may work better for some.

    Nonetheless, whichever debt repayment method you choose, be sure to make your minimum payments and work towards improving your credit rating. Reading about bad credit debt consolidation loans is the first step. Now take the plunge and get your financial house in order.

    Related posts:

    Free tips on jumpstarting your expert status

    Whether you’re dreaming of consulting or already running a business of your own, you probably know that gaining expert status can help you with building client relationships. That’s why we offer Six Tips for Jumpstarting Your Expert Status when you sign up for our newsletter.

    The next issue of the newsletter is due out in the next week or so, which makes this a great time to sign up.

    Why get a line of credit for small business

    A line of credit can help you better manage your small business, assuming you can manage the credit itself. When I first opened my consulting business, I avoided debt like the plague. That meant going on a strict cash basis, avoiding a credit card or a line of credit. But, over the years, I’ve loosened my standards and realized that a little credit here and there can actually help with growing a business.

    Trial consultant – a key legal team member

    A trial consultant brings expertise to a legal team, before, during and after a trial. A trial consultant works with a lawyer, often choosing jurors, performing mock trials, running focus groups, organizing testimony, setting up shadow juries, and providing comment on the trial and the lawyers themselves.

    Jury consultants

    Jury consultants can help a legal team make or break a case. As human behaviour experts, jury consultants help lawyers understand jurors, prepare for trials, manage trials and understand what’s going during a trial.

    Jury consultant

    Jury consultant – a key to winning high stakes legal cases. A jury consultant works with a legal team during jury selection, a trial and sometimes post trial. In most cases, a jury consultant is hired for expert insight into human behaviour – not for knowledge of law itself.

    Authentic Consulting – bringing authenticity to consultancy

    How is authenticity demonstrated as a consultant? According to Ryan and Bellman: “Authenticity is the difference between being and playing.”

    Becoming an independent consultant

    Becoming an independent consultant can dominate your thoughts, if you’re looking for a change. Becoming an consultant and being independent often appeals to dreams of freedom, control of your own destiny, financial reward, lifestyle, time for yourself and family. Taking the leap from dream to reality can be an empowering journey.

    Hourly consulting rate

    Hourly consulting rate calculations can leave even the savviest consultant feeling frustrated.

    Canadians: buy now and save on HST

    If you’re Canadian, you probably know the HST sales tax rolls in July 1st. Now is a great time to visit the Consultant Journal store, since there’s only GST right now.

    How many hours do you work as a consultant?

    How many hours do you work as a consultant? Okay, now, how many of those hours are actually consulting? How much time are you actually spending on just consulting?

    Should you take every job?

    Many new consultants wonder if they should ever take the risk of turning down work. But accepting every job carries risks too.

    Mary Kastle – special offer for Consultant Journal readers

    We adore the music of Mary Kastle, who we’ve written about a few times before. With her business in full swing, she’s back with a new CD.

    How a smart phone can help your business

    Get an edge in your business by shifting key activities to a smart phone.

    Marketing for counselors – counselors need marketing too

    Marketing for counselors may seem like an uncomfortable area for many people used to being in a helping profession. But counselors can succeed with marketing based on their values, just like any other consultant or small business owner can. If you think of marketing as something “evil”, it’s probably because you’ve encountered marketing that doesn’t fit with your values.

    Marketing for counsellors – counsellors need marketing too

    Marketing for counsellors may seem like an uncomfortable area for many people used to being in a helping profession. But counsellors can succeed with marketing based on their values, just like any other consultant or small business owner can.

    Counsellors’ marketing needs

    Counsellors and consultants are alike in that they need to determine their unique position in the market, work out the best way of connecting with clients, and then build a profitable, sustainable business. Word of mouth is key, but a good marketing plan can help you work out how to generate and sustain the power of referrals. Knowing what business would work for you and what your values are, planning your business, and setting fees are common to counsellors and consultants alike.

    As with many licensed professions, counsellors also need to examine the rules and criteria set out by their professional associations. Of course, in reviewing your values, this also comes up.

    If you’re looking to market your counselling business, the following articles may help:

    Marketing tips

    Consulting contract example

    Consulting contract examples are something that some consultants don’t take much time to consider. I mean, you’re a new consultant. You’re busy building your expert-status, finding new clients, and meeting your clients’ needs. As a result, for some passionate consultants, the financial and legal aspects of their business take a back-seat. But contracts are a key to your business.

    You need contracts. Contracts protect you, and they help your client understand what’s involved and included in your work.

    Most consultants work from a basic consulting contract example, which they modify for each new project or client. Since you’ll be reusing this contract again and again, you’ll want to start with a solid consulting contract example that you can trust. 

    Generally, consultants work with a lawyer to draft a basic consulting contract example template. But it’s not always necessary to go that route. In fact, I considered working with a lawyer to draft my templates, but, having reviewed what US Legal Forms has to offer, I decided not to reinvent the wheel.

    Remember, asking your clients to sign a contract is not interpreted as an inconvenience; the fact that you require a signed contract establishes your professionalism. So don’t shy away from using consulting contracts.

    Get yourself a solid consulting contract example from a trusted source, like US Legal Forms. That way, both you and your client will be protected.

    Related posts:

     

    How to become a tutor

    How to become a tutor – are you wondering where to begin? Learning how to become a tutor is easy. In order to become a tutor, you should first have an area of specialization. Tutors can specialize in a number of subjects:

    • Math
    • Marketing
    • English
    • Writing
    • Business
    • Sciences
    • Music
    • Languages
    • Test preparation
    • And many other areas of specialization

    As a tutor, your clients could range from elementary, high school and university students to business professionals.

    Becoming a tutor can start one of two ways:

    1. Getting hired by a tutoring agency

    Getting hired by a tutoring agency is a great place to learn how to become a tutor if you are new to the tutoring industry.

    Tutoring agencies can help you determine how to become a tutor, including understanding how much to charge and what is expected of you. To find a list of local tutoring agencies, check the Yellow Pages under tutors.

    When contacting a tutoring agency, be sure to have a specific area of specialization and a polished, up-to-date resume on hand. Your resume should highlight your experience and any credentials that relate to the area you wish to tutor in.

    2. Starting your own tutoring business from your own home or office

    The benefits of working for yourself as a tutor are varied, but most independent tutors appreciate the flexibility. How to become a tutor may seem overwhelming if you’re going it alone, but starting your own tutoring business is doable.

    If you’re starting up your own tutoring business, you’ll need to determine the following:

    • Do you have enough expertise to become a tutor?
    • How much will you charge?
    • Where will you tutor your clients?
    • How many hours per week will you tutor?
    • Who will be your target clients?
    • Where will you advertise?

    In order to answer these questions regarding how to become a tutor, you’ll want to get in touch with other tutors in your area. Starting your own tutoring business is similar to starting a consulting business. Still wondering how to become a tutor? Don’t postpone it any longer. Find a tutor in your area and get first-hand information on how to become a tutor!

    Related posts:

     

    Canadians – order before the HST comes in

    Canadian readers – just a quick note to remind you that, if you place your orders before July 1st, you can avoid the upcoming HST and only pay GST. Consultant Journal is based in BC, so that means you’re only dealing with GST of 5% right now.

    That means this is a great time to order your one of the Consultant Journal guides or workbooks or the Become a Consultant course.

    If you live outside Canada, you need not worry about these taxes.

     

    Self Employed Rates: an entire site for your perusal

    When I started Consultant Journal four years ago, I had no idea it would become so popular. I initially thought it would just be a place for me to record some tales from life in the trenches as a consultant. Readership grew, though, and soon my posts on setting rates, negotiating credit cards and loans and so on also became popular. And although many of you come here to learn about consulting, still others are keen to learn about self employment in general.

    Still, while consulting is often self employment, not all self employment means consulting. And many of my readers want to learn about finance issues in self employment. So, with that in mind, I’ve launched Self Employed Rates at www.selfemployedrates.com. You can expect to read about credit cards, loans, funding, medical insurance, business insurance, car insurance and more.

    Thanks for your support on my journey to date. I have enjoyed — and continue to enjoy — helping you with self employment. I hope some of you will find the articles at Self Employed Rates helpful too. 

    Tips for new consultants

    Tips for new consultants are invaluable. I’ve taken some time to round up some of my best tips for new consultants:

    Getting started

    When you’re getting started, there’s a lot to consider. How much money will you need to get started? Is consulting viable in your industry? Will you need to become certified? What about business cards? What about health insurance for the self-employed?  And should you be charging taxes? For more details, check out the becoming a consultant FAQ.

    Choosing your niche

    One of the best tips for new consultants is to get specific about what you can offer your clients. Here at Consultant Journal I’ve written over 800 tips for new consultants, and I’ve covered dozens of ideas for becoming a consultant, including:

    1. Become a home staging consultant
    2. Become a mortgage consultant
    3. Become a clutter consultant
    4. Become a skin care consultant
    5. Become a legal nurse consultant
    6. Become a philosophic consultant
    7. Become a sports nutrition consultant
    8. Become a sales consultant
    9. Become a grant writing consultant
    10. Become a prenatal and postnatal fitness consultant
    11. Become a restaurant consultant
    12. Become an information technology (IT) consultant
    13. Become a Tupperware consultant
    14. Become an Avon consultant
    15. Become an online business backup consultant
    16. Become a social media consultant
    17. Become a Mary Kay cosmetic consultant
    18. Become a marketing consultant
    19. Become an online researcher
    20. Become a personal chef
    21. Become a weight loss consultant
    22. Become an art consultant
    23. Become a copywriting consultant
    24. Become a fitness consultant
    25. Become a wedding consultant
    26. Become a graphic design consultant
    27. Become a life coach consultant
    28. Become a CHRP consultant
    29. Become an HR consultant
    30. Become an image consultant
    31. Become an environmental consultant
    32. Become a tax consultant
    33. Become a financial consultant
    34. Become a management consultant

    I’ve also put together a comprehensive guide to help you Discover Your Inner Consultant: A Guide for Discovering What Consulting Business You Could Start.

    Setting rates

    Not sure what your consulting rate should be? Having a thorough understanding of what you need to charge as a consultant can mean the difference between just paying the bills and making an amazing living. Understanding consulting rates is key.

    For all the inside scoop, take a look at Consulting Fees: A Guide for Independent Consultants.

    Marketing your business

    I’ve written a lot about how to market your business and how to land new clients. Take a look at my five-part series, Finding New Clients.

    Managing your clients

    Once you’ve become a busy consultant, you may find yourself having to manage a wide variety of clients. And, yes, sometimes you’ll even be turning away work.

    Work-life balance

    And don’t forget the reasons you became a consultant in the first-place. Take care of yourself and your family, and make sure your work-life balance is appropriate for you.

    These are just a few tips for new consultants. Good luck on your journey!

     

    Carol Burnett on falling down

    Comedy star Carol Burnett has seen her fair share of good and bad. But she points out that learning that you can get through failure is part of being able to succeed:

    Health insurance for the self employed

    I’m thinking about getting some private health insurance. Have you done this? 

    What do you think about the options? Is it worth adding on dental and vision?

     

    Financial concerns – what are yours?

    Open thread today…what are your top financial concerns for your business or personal life?

    Go ahead…jump in and let’s talk money today.

    What do you love about consulting?

    What makes consulting a good fit for you?

    Why I didn’t do a PhD: consulting rocks

    Throughout my 20s, I thought about doing a PhD. A three or four trusted mentors encouraged me to go after a PhD, because I love research, discovery, writing, publishing and teaching. I thought about it really seriously, but, in the end, I changed my mind.

     
    Why? I realized I could achieve all those goals through my consulting business. As a consultant, I have:
    • Mentored students, new workers, contractors and new consultants
    • Coached entrepreneurs and executives
    • Published three ebooks
    • Written more than 1,300 articles – for magazines, books, websites and blogs
    • Researched everything from Shakespeare to hubs and routers and from dental implants to banking software
    • Had my work featured in a textbook
    • Developed a course to help people start and run consulting businesses
    • Taught at the university level, including for the University of British Columbia
    • Been invited to speak at association
    • Been hired to speak professionally
    • Developed a consulting methodology based on my independent research
    • Earned a very competitive living
    In the next few years, as time allows, I expect to expand my business, publish a book in print, and do more speaking.
     
    I can’t think of a reason to do a PhD. I mean, I could become a prof, but I no longer see a need to do so.
     
    Have you ever thought about academia?
     
     

    Consulting skills – an ongoing investment

    Consulting skills can help lift your career — and business — to new heights. By taking the time to review and improve your consulting skills, you can gain more control over the direction you’re headed in.

    When I started in consulting, I had great technical skills. I could lay out marketing strategies, create marketing tools, manage projects and so on. But managing client relationships, sales, proposals, invoicing, contracts, my business plan and so on were totally new to me. I had the skills to succeed as a marketer, but now I needed to figure out how to run a marketing consulting company.

    Fortunately, my background in marketing and my love of people gave me the foundation to get my business going. I took part in an entrepreneur program, which helped mentor me and connect me to some great people. In fact, all these years late, I still keep in touch with many of those people — some as friends, some as clients, some as both and some simply out of an interest in finding out where we are these days.

    For me, learning to manage client relationships has been the most valuable part of my journey. I’ve learned to see my clients as people who love their businesses and who have a lot at stake. If they’re not buying into my vision, then that’s because I’m selling them my vision — and not working with theirs. I’ve learned my clients are the experts in their own businesses and that I’m there to guide them in their journey.

    What consulting skills have been most important for you?

    Celebrating still being here

    It’s April 11th and that means it’s Consultant Journal’s fourth anniversary! Woot woot!

    Distance education graduate programs in public relations

    Distance Education Graduate Programs in Public Relations – I wanted to let you know about a new distance ed masters degree in PR.

    Become a life coach

    Become a life coach and start your journey into self-employment today.

    Life coaches help their clients identify and then achieve goals. Life coaching can be one of the most rewarding types of consulting because life coaches help their clients in all areas of their lives. While life coaches aren’t counselors or therapists, life coaches do draw on multiple disciplines to help their clients improve their lives.

    In order to become a life coach, the first step is to decide that life coaching is for you. Before launching your business, become an expert on what it’s like to be a life coach. Do research:

    • Speak to life coaches about their experiences;
    • Understand the complexities of the life coach certification process;
    • Understand how to set your rates;
    • Read books about life coaching;
    • Understand your local market;

    There is ample online information about how to become a life coach. But don’t simply rely on online research. Get out there in your community and meet life coaches in your area. No one can give you a better sense of life coaching than those already working in the field.

    Once you’ve fully grasped what it will take to become a life coach, consider specializing in one area: business, health, relationship, personal, or sport coaching.

    Once you’ve done your research and have chosen to become a specialized life coach, you’re ready to launch your life coach consulting business!

    Related posts:

    Become a graphic design consultant

    Become a graphic design consultant and take advantage of the move to new media. Today, the demand for websites and visual marketing is higher than ever. Now is the perfect time to become a graphic design consultant.

    Consider becoming a graphic design consultant if you are creative and have skills in Photoshop or similar graphic design programs. Graphic design consultants have to be skilled in graphic design, as well as in client and project management.

    Not all graphic design consultants require diplomas or degrees in graphic design or mixed media. Of course, having such a background helps, but many graphic design consultants are self-taught.

    Graphic design consultants work on a number of different projects, including:

    • website designs
    • logos and branding
    • brochures
    • business cards
    • labeling and packaging
    • and much more

    Graphic design consultants usually position themselves as either print or web specialists; web specialists are often referred to as web designers as opposed to graphic designers. This distinction is important because the skills and tactics involved in print and web design are very different.

    As a new graphic design consultant, one of the best sources of new work is other consultants and related businesses. New graphic design consultants should consider contacting marketing firms/consultants and website development businesses and consultants; they often require the services of a graphic designer and can be a source of a lot of business.

    Becoming a graphic design consultant is simply one of the many types of consultants that you can become. If you are passionate about the web but are not skilled in the visual arts, consider becoming a social media consultant.

    Related posts:

     

    I want to be a consultant

    "I want to be a consultant…" Ah yes, those six powerful words. They’ve been known to change lives; they sure changed mine.

    Just like attaining any other goal in life, it’s the desire to do something that starts a ball rolling. Once you’ve identified what it is that you want, your dreams suddenly become more attainable. You can see a path from that phrase, "I want to be a consultant," all the way to becoming a consultant.

    Once you’ve decided that you want to be a consultant, then you can stop wondering and waiting. You can start planning on attaining your goal.

    Are you thinking of becoming a consultant? Are the words "I want to be a consultant" keeping you up at night or getting you through a bad day at work?  Well, don’t spend another day wondering.

    You don’t have to give up on your day job if you’re not ready to jump in overnight. Why not consider becoming a consultant as a sidejob? Or consider investing in the "Discover Your Inner Consultant" guide.

    The next time you hear those words tickling your ears, listen. "I want to be a consultant."

    Do you want to be a consultant? Think about it. Do something about it. Get started today. What have you got to lose?

     Related posts:

     

     

     

     

    How’s your year going?

    It’s March 1st. We’re starting the third month of 2010. How’s your business year going? Sure, you may not have a business year-end that reflects the usual calendar, but it’s helpful to do a check in.

    What are you doing well at? 

    What are you struggling with?

    For me, I’m doing much better at tackling self care. On the flipside, I’m struggling with some short-term health care issues. But they’re becoming much more manageable and I can already see a huge difference. Self care has been an important part of resetting things. Learning to enjoy little things, like the taste of a raisin or the smell and warmth of a cup of coffee has become an important part of my day. By taking time during the day to recognize those little pleasures and the goodness they bring to my life, I’ve really grown. At the same time, business continues to boom. I can’t keep up with it all, but I’ve decided that’s okay. I’m focusing on what I love and what’s important to me. For me, this is a great opportunity to change the way I run my business and my life.

    How about you?

    What is a consultant?

    What is a consultant? The idea of consulting can be confusing. Sure, you’ve met a few "consultants," but, in actuality, what is a consultant? What does it mean to be a consultant? And, better yet, how can you become a consultant?

    What is a consultant?

    Consultants are independent contractors who are paid hourly, per day, or per project. But rather than get bogged down in figuring out who is and who is not a consultant, let’s talk about how you could become a consultant.

    When you think of consultants, you may think of seasoned PhDs billing hundreds of dollars per hour. Yes, there are many consultants who fall into this group. However, what you may not know is that there are thousands of consultants who are just regular people — some of them may even be stay-at-home parents, artists or other people you might not see as "suits".

    Remember, in order to become a consultant, you don’t have to be the world’s foremost expert; you simply need to know more than your client knows. That way, you’re offering your client your expertise and knowledge, which he or she compensates you for in the form of a high hourly rate.

    Now that you know the answer to the question, "What is a consultant," perhaps you are Interested in becoming a consultant yourself–even as a side job to pay off debt, to build your resume, or just to have more disposable income.

    Who knows. Perhaps the next time someone asks, "What is a consultant?" you can answer, "Good question. Seeing as how I am a consultant myself, let me explain it to you."

    Need help determining the most lucrative and successful ways to start a consulting business? Consider the Discover Your Inner Consultant course. Or just want to find out how much consultants make? Dive into Consulting Fees.

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    Sample consulting estimate

    Sample consulting estimates are hard to come by. New consultants often have little experience with setting consulting fee rates or they aren’t sure what to include in a project estimate. Setting your rate and accurately estimating what is involved in a project are crucial to consultant success. As a result, I’ve decided to include this sample consulting estimate to help new consultants.

    Let’s start with the easy part. Similar to my sample consulting invoice, include the basics:

    ESTIMATE
    Name / Company Name
    Address
    Phone
    Fax
    Email
    Web
    US Federal Tax Payer ID (Business Number in Canada)

    Date
    Estimate number

    CLIENT’S DETAILS
    Contact
    Company Name
    Phone
    Email

    Next comes the most important part: what to include and exclude from your project estimate.

    Billing by the hour

    Billing by the hour is relatively straightforward once you understand how much to charge. For example, in your estimate you could state that Project XYZ may take approximately 100 hours and you’ll be billing hourly for your work.

    If billing by the hour, most clients would like to see a maximum number of hours outlined in the estimate. For example, " Project XYZ will be billed hourly at a rate of $80 per hour up to a maximum of 200 hours."

    Per project estimates

    Many experienced consultants bill by the project, and, for the most part, I do too. Most clients prefer per-project rates because they know what to expect.

    For example, in your estimate you could state that Project XYZ will cost $3100, plus applicable taxes. If it’s a large project, it may be helpful to both you and the client to break down the project cost into sub-sections so that the client can see how you’ve arrived at the total cost.

    When billing per project, it is crucial that you outline what is and what is not included in the project. When possible, be sure to outline the project parameters in the estimate or in the contract (yes, you need a contract!).

    If, as an IT consultant, your estimate and contract simply state, "I will fix your computer for $1000," this project is open to interpretation, which can lead to problems.

    To you, the consultant,  "fixing" the computer may mean diagnosing a problem and recommending a solution. However, to the client "fixing" the computer may mean diagnosing the problem, recommending a solution and providing all of the required hardware or software required to implement the solution. This dispute over who is paying for the hardware or software could have been avoided by a clear estimate and contract.

    Detailed estimates and contracts are one of the simplest ways to avoid miscommunication about what is and is not included in the project. Take the time to write detailed estimates and contracts. Not only will they increase your perceived professionalism, but they will protect you and your consulting business.

    Related posts:

     

    How to earn money as a consultant

    Want to know how to earn money as a consultant? It’s easier than you think. There are many ways to earn money as a consultant: social media consulting, IT consulting, home staging consulting, environmental consulting and much more.

    Start by doing an inventory of your skills and experience. What are you good at? What do you love to do? Then determine how to work your passions into a lucrative consulting career.

    If you’re interested in earning money as a consultant, you may want to make it your full-time career or you may simply want to consult as a side job. Either way, it’s important to focus on how to earn money as a consultant. No matter how much you love your work, work is work.

    Many consultants choose to earn money on a per-project basis rather than an hourly rate. From the outset you must be paid fairly–and perhaps even generously.

    Setting the appropriate consulting fee rates is integral to being a successful consultant. Being a consultant involves a lot of perks, but it also involves hard work and risk. Your hourly wage should and can reflect this. In fact, the average consulting fee ranges from thirty to hundreds of dollars an hour.

    If you’re interested in how to earn money as a consultant, I encourage you to browse here at Consultant Journal. I’ve written over 800 free articles that help people just like you survive and thrive as consultants. You can do it. Start here and start now.

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    What are your biggest financial concerns?

    When you’re running or starting a business, finances tend to be a major consideration. Whether it’s paying your own mortgage or making payroll for a team of employees, money affects your life and your business.

    Over the years, we’ve covered a wide variety of financial topics: consulting fees, second jobs, finance and more. In fact, our "Finance for Consultants FAQ" is a popular page — and it has a long list of our financial posts.

    But what do you want to know more about? Credit cards, loans, lines of credit, write-offs, making money, health insurance, business insurance, leasing a car? Let us know. We’re listening. And we’re ready to research and help you find answers.

    Become a CHRP consultant

    Become a CHRP consultant and leverage your people skills. What is a CHRP? The initials CHRP stand for Certified Human Resources Professional, and CHRP is the professional designation used in Canada for experts in Human Resource management.

    CHRPs are experts when it comes to recruitment, personnel management, union and employee regulation, performance appraisals, job descriptions, hiring and employee retention.

    In Canada alone, there are over 19,000 certified CHRPs. There is increasing demand for CHRPs as organizations recognize the financial cost of bad hires and transient employees.

    CHRP consultants

    Many medium-sized business don’t have a full-time CHRP on staff. Instead, they seek out a CHRP consultant when the organization requires the services of a Certified Human Resources Professional. For example, CHRP consultants may be hired when new employee policies are required or if a search for new staff members is necessary.

    In order to raise the standards of the CHRP profession, starting in January of 2011 all CHRP candidates will have to hold college or undegraduate degrees. If you already hold a degree, becoming a CHRP can help you obtain specialized training while continuing to leverage your undergraduate education.

    Become a CHRP consultant

    In Canada, the CHRP designation is overseen by the Canadian Council of Human Resources Assocation (CCHRA), but the actual CHRP designation is granted by Provincial or Territorial HR associations.

    Follow these steps to become a CHRP consultant:

    1. Remember that as of January of 2011 all CHRP candidates will be required to hold college or undegraduate degrees.

    2. Register with your Province or Territory’s HR Association. Make sure that the Association can grant the CHRP designation. Check with the Association to find out whether they have any special prerequisites.

    3. Write and pass the National Knowledge Exam. The test consists of 150 multiple-choice questions and a grade of 70% or higher is required to pass. The cost to write the test is approximately $250.

    4. Write and pass the National Professional Practice Assessment exam.  The test also consists of 150 multiple-choice questions and a grade of 70% or higher is required to pass. The cost to write the test is approximately $500.

    Becoming a CHRP consultant might be the perfect consulting job for you if you love people, have an undegraduate degree, and are looking to become recognized as a specialist with sellable, marketable skills.

    Think becoming a CHRP consultant isn’t right for you? Check out this comprehensive list of other types of consultants you can become.

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    What are your biggest fears about your business?

    Running a business involves some risks. For me, there came a point where the risk of not following my dreams and pursuing my passions was higher than the risk of staying in a regular office job.

    Once you start a business, though, you may still have some fears. People have told me they fear:

    • sales
    • flying (making business trips a challenge)
    • public speaking
    • negotiating
    • being put in a position where the client lowballs them
    • and so on.

    What are your biggest fears about your business?

    Billy Wilder on your inner voice

    Director Billy Wilder, the man behind Sunset Blvd and Some Like It Hot once said:

    “Trust your own instinct. Your mistakes might as well be your own, instead of someone else’s.”

    Still wondering if you should make the leap to starting a consulting business or perhaps to growing your existing business? What is your gut telling you?

    Two truths: you can hold both

    Do you ever struggle with your desire to build a successful business and the here and now of where your business is today? Perhaps you struggle with a variety of truths:

    • You want very much to work on your own, but you feel a need to have someone guide you
    • You are inspired to grow your business, but you procrastinate and get behind
    • You love running your own show, but you have lonely days
    • You love what you do, but you hate how most of your days look
    • You know you’ll make serious money when your business grows, but you’re not there yet and you’re struggling to pay the bills
    • You love the excitement of new assignments, but you don’t like feast or famine cycles
    • or perhaps you’ve got your own polar truths to add here

    Perhaps you feel one or the other must be true. But both can be true. You can hold both of those ideas.

    The solution is finding a way to address both ideas. If one idea is really affecting your today, then look at how to solve it. It’s okay to take steps to make positive changes.

    You can hold two truths.

    Maybe you need to get a part-time job. Or a full-time job. Or join a networking group. Or get a mentor. Or do more social stuff. Or write a new business plan. Or draft a new marketing plan. Or build up an emergency fund.

    In fact, as I write in How to make the leap to full-time consulting, you can take small steps. You needn’t jump to one polar view or take a black and white approach. You CAN build a successful business while having fears, uncertainties, hesitations, financial woes and more. You just need to honour those points and look to address them.

    Your feelings matter. And they need not be one way or the other. You can hold multiple feelings and still be "right" and "successful".

    Marie Curie on your career

    Famed physicist and Nobel Prize winner Marie Curie pioneered research in radium, polonium and radioactivity. But she once shared some wisdom that may inspire you as you go about managing your life, career and business:

    “Life is not easy for any of us. But what of that? We must have perseverance and above all confidence in ourselves. We must believe that we are gifted for something, and that this thing, at whatever cost, must be attained.”

    Marie Curie began her undergraduate work in Warsaw at a time when women were not permitted to attend university. Fearing the repercussions of the czarist regime, she studied at a "floating university" that changed location nightly. She eventually went on to be the first woman in France to get a PhD, the first female prof at the Sorbonne and the first woman to win the Nobel Prize. That’s passion. That’s values-driven.

    What drives you in your work and life?

    Get a contract and deposit before you start work

    Egads, how many times have I heard stories where there’s a consultant or freelancer who’s struggling with invoicing on a project — and hasn’t got a contract or deposit? In fact, usually, when I hear someone has run into payment troubles, it’s usually when there’s no written contract or deposit.

    If you’re doing work without a written contract or a deposit, stop that! Stop that right now!

    Start treating your business like a business. Sure, verbal contracts are enforceable in many places. But that doesn’t make it easy to enforce a verbal contract. Moreover, if you haven’t got stuff written down, how will you remember the expectations and conditions later, especially when it’s time to get paid? Get a contract in place!

    And, wherever possible, get a deposit. Deposits provide a huge number of advantages. And clients may take you more seriously if you ask for money up front.

    These are just suggestions, of course. Talk to a lawyer if you want legal advice. Talk to an accountant for financial advice. But, from the hard-won experience of this consultant, you should really get contracts and deposits in place before starting any project.

    Making big plans

    Making big plans is easy to forget about when juggling the day to day responsibilities of your own consulting business. But big plans and an overall goal and vision are crucial in making every day decisions. Remember that all your little decisions become your life and your business.  Many people don’t take the time to think that it’s the little decisions that shape who we are and how our businesses grow.

    No matter what type of consultant you are, you’ve got to have a big plan. Who are your ideal clients? What direction do you want to go in? What are your financial targets? Where would you like your consulting fee rate to be in two years?

    In order to set goals, you don’t need to create a 30-page document outlining every parameter; you just need some tangible targets. If you need help setting concrete goals, try the SMART system for setting goals.

    Once you’ve got your goals in mind, the next step is to determine how you’re going to achieve them. And then stay true to your goals. Stay on track by measuring your everyday decisions against your goals. The small decisions that we make every day are what can either lead us toward–or away–from our goals.

    Reevaluate your goals as needed. We all alter our goals as parameters change or as goals are achieved. When you do achieve a goal, be sure to make time to celebrate and recognize how far you’ve come. Then make another big plan!

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    The core of relationships

    There’s no denying that businesses are built on relationships. And the core of relationships is trust. In essence, trust is an understanding that both parties can rely on one another to achieve a shared goal. There is no relationship without trust, and successful business can’t exist without relationships.

    How to establish credibility in the business world

    Trust isn’t built between you and your client overnight, but you can take steps to get a jumpstart on credibility. Make it easier for your client to trust in you and your business:

    How to build trust in the business world

    Once a prospect becomes your client, it’s integral to continue building trust. Here are some key ways to continue building trust in business relationships:

    • Always make business decisions with trust in mind.
    • Never make promises that you can’t keep.
    • Understand your client’s objectives and recommend the best options (even if the options aren’t in your company’s best interest).
    • Stand by your promises.
    • Communicate openly.
    • Admit your mistakes.
    • Share information about yourself and your company.
    • Listen.
    • Be consistent.

    When working with clients, always remember that relationships are key and that trust is the the core of relationships. If you do this, you’ll be sure to keep your clients happy, which will lead to word of mouth referrals. This is the business relationship circle of trust.

    Related posts: 

     

     

    Business relationships are still relationships

    Business relationships are still relationships, no matter which way you look at them. In order to be successful in business you’ll need to foster strong relationships with clients, vendors, buyers, staff, or distributors. It’s not surprising, then, that business relationships require much consideration, including client generation and customer relationship management  strategies.

    But many business owners make the mistake of treating business relationships markedly different than personal relationships. Are business relationships really that different from friendships? No, they’re not.

    Most consultants strive toward turning one-off clients into lasting client relationships. When this happens, you’ll get to know more and more about your client’s business and personal life, and vice versa. This can strengthen the bond between you and your client, increase customer loyalty and it can make for a more satisfying, efficient and productive business relationship.

    Trust is integral to business relationships. Without trust, there is no relationship. Respect for the nature of the relationship is equally important. Over time the lines between business and personal relationships can become blurry as your relationship develops. If both parties trust one another and respect the nature of the relationship, the relationship can blossom into a productive, profitable and pleasurable business experience.

    Some new entrepreneurs wonder where to draw the line with how much information to share with their clients. As with friendships, every relationship is different and only you can make that determination. As long as the relationship is based on trust, respect and a mutual understanding about the nature of the relationship, the relationship may take on a life of its one. After all, business relationships are still relationships, no matter which way you look at them.

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    Running a values-driven business

    Running a values-driven business is a business concept that affects all brands and businesses, whether they are aware of it or not. Consider the companies that you interact with on a weekly basis: your grocery store, a new car dealer, an independent clothing store or the local big box store.What are their values? Do they stand for affordability, quality and service or client satisfaction? Or perhaps they just care about making the sale? 

    As an entrepreneur, have you considered that you are running a values-driven business? What would your clients say if asked what you stand for?

    An example of values-driven thinking

    Some consultants operate values-driven businesses unconsciously. Perhaps you are a bootstrapping entrepreneur who recognizes the value of word of mouth referrals. You are committed to client satisfaction and may even go above and beyond to keep a new client happy. Without necessarily sitting down and scratching out the details of your business values, you’re running a values-driven business without even thinking about it.

    Conversely, another entrepreneur may be solely budget-driven. He may leave clients in the lurch and leave a trail of disappointed customers in his wake. He is running a values-driven business too, based strictly on volume and sales. The results could be devastating to his business.

    What are your business values?

    As with most strategies in the business world, it’s best to start with a plan. Don’t just fall into your values. Consider which values are important to you, and build your business around them. Here are a few ideas to help you consider your business values:

    • Commitment to customer trust
    • Ethical business practices
    • Green business practices
    • Customer satisfaction
    • Affordability
    • Continuous improvement
    • Authenticity
    • Follow-through
    • Relationship building

    What do you want your business to stand for?

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    Your client may be right

    Have you ever got into a situation where you’re convinced your client has to listen to you? 

    Where you know you’re the expert? Where your experience, your years in the trench, your training, your education and your methodology — and maybe even your gut — tell you what the client needs in this situation?

    Stop for a moment.

    Think of your client. It’s your client’s business. Your client’s market. Your client’s experience. Your client’s history, training, education and methodology telling them to disagree with you.

    And maybe your client is right.

    In fact, your client is right. They know their business better than anyone else.

    So reposition. Reframe. Find out the sticking points. What’s holding your client back from accepting your opinion, your expertise?

    Look for a way to bridge the differences. Let your client own this solution. Because, if they don’t believe in you, they’re never going to trust that your solution is right. And it will just be sitting on a shelf.

    In the end, it’s not about being right. It’s about building a bridge to help the client cross over to a world where they don’t feel the pain of their current challenges. So be part of the solution.

    Happy New Year – what are your resolutions?

    Wow, 2010. When I was a kid, this was the future. It was past the timeline of 2001, the movie. It was 10 years into the millenium. And now it’s just…today.

    Still…2010. I’m a little behind — that’s been my story since the fall — but I’m thinking about New Year’s resolutions. I want them to be in line with my values.

    In 2007, I promised to blog naked. (It got attention, but I meant I’d be blogging more openly and honestly.) In 2008, I aimed for efficiency in work and to earn more per hour — good on those two points, but I’m not sure how well I did with my work scheduling. And, in January 2009, I launched the Become a Consultant course.

    This year? Well, I want to be more organized this year. I want to grow my business more. But, having sought to grow my business this past year, I’m waaaaay behind. I haven’t sent out a Consultant Journal newsletter in a few months. That’s high priority for January.

    Still, I need to take some time to organize my thoughts around what I want to do in 2010.

    How about you? What’s on the agenda?

    Knowing your values

    Do you think about your values when it comes to your business? I recently met with another business owner who wasn’t feeling motivated or inspired. This entrepreneur said they just didn’t want to get up and do their work every day.

    In talking to them, I discovered that this individual felt disconnected from the umbrella company they work with. Through discussion, I learned that the company’s mission, values, brand and strategy were out of alignment with this consultant’s values.

    I get that. I’ve been there.

    When I rebranded my marketing consulting company this year, I thought a lot about my values. What stood out for me most is that I like to "live my values". I like to think that the way I approach every action is driven by my core values. And what’s been really important to me — throughout my life, but especially now — is authenticity, trust, commitment, follow-through, respect and fantastic relationships. I decided to take those values and have them drive my business processes. I mapped out new ways of building marketing programs, so that I pay attention to each of those values. And I’m focusing on clients who really care about those values. I renamed my company Trustmode Marketing.

    I’ve never been so happy about my work. And business is booming for me. By focusing on what I believe in and seeking out clients who share that vision, I’ve been able to create the change I wanted — in my life and in my business.

    How do your values fit into your business?

     

    Become an image consultant

    Becoming an image consultant is an exciting career aspiration for many, and this dream can become a reality. If you are confident, driven, tactful and have a desire to help others, you may want to seriously consider becoming an image consultant.

    Image consultants offer comprehensive guidance to their clients in terms of how to improve their image. Guidance can cover fashion, etiquette, voice coaching and many other subtle but integral pieces that make up one’s image.

    In order to become an image consultant, It is not necessary to become certified; however, you may want to become certified to increase your perceived professionalism and to gain increased knowledge. There are numerous image consultant certifications available online. However, make sure to do your research to ensure that you’re getting certified by a knowledgeable and reputable organization. Start by contacting the Association of Image Consultants, who can offer guidance regarding which image certification courses are the most reputable and offer the most practical and usable training.

    Becoming an image consultant or image professional can be a very rewarding experience, both financially and personally. Image consultants are one of the few people who are invited to help others improve their look. These improvements can lead to new relationships, promotions, and complete life changes. 

    Once you decide to become an image consultant, you’ll want to know how much image consultants charge. Rates can vary greatly. If you’re considering becoming a consultant, you may want to read my eye-opening guide, Consulting Fees: A Guide for Independent Consultants.

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    Become a business consultant

    Become a business consultant and discover what it’s like to be your own manager and set your own rates.

    Business consulting can take many forms, and there are many specializations within the industry. However, at their core, business consultants help identify and solve problems. Business consultants can work with corporations or entrepreneurs.

    When considering whether to become a business consultant, many entrepreneurs wonder whether they will require any certifications or accreditations. The answer can depend on which area of business consulting you decide to work in. I have touched on certifications with reference to financial, tax, and HR consultants.

    Some people are surprised to learn that it costs very little to become a business consultant. The trick is to set aside some savings and follow the steps to becoming a consultant.

    If you could benefit from additional guidance on whether to become a business consultant or if you’ve already decided to start a business consultancy and need assistance making the right choices consider registering for the online course, Become a Consultant: How to Make the Leap.

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    Being a consultant

    Thinking of becoming a consultant? Let our concise guide start you on our way – then turn to our library of article for in-depth support.

    Become an HR consultant

    Become an HR consultant and take control of your career. HR (human resources) consultants across Canada and the US are benefiting from flexible schedules and other benefits of consulting.

    HR consulting is an exciting choice for entry-level consultants. While some business consulting areas, such as tax consulting,  require substantial background and prior knowledge, HR consulting can require less prior experience for the right candidate. Remember that to be a consultant you don’t have to be an expert. Sometimes consultants take the burden off their clients by solving their clients’ problems.

    That being said, in order to become an HR consultant who is in-demand and confident in his or her work, training is beneficial. There are numerous courses and accreditations available to HR consultants, and anyone who’d like to become an HR consultant should investigate the available opportunities both locally and online. For example, in Canada, certified human resource professionals (CHRP) must meet requirements, pass two national exams and sign a code of ethics. Skilled HR consultants are proficient in issues related to professional practice, organizational effectiveness, staffing, employee and labour relations, compensation, training and development, and occupational health and wellness."

    Skilled HR consultants are proficient in issues related to professional practice, organizational effectiveness, staffing, employee and labour relations, compensation, training and development, and occupational health and wellness. 

    Most HR consultants have a passion for people and enjoy networking and one-on-one contact. Are you considering whether to become an HR consultant? If you are considering this career change, I would encourage you to perform a personal inventory of your interests, skills and values.

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    Become an environmental consultant

    Become an environmental consultant and combine your passion for the environment with the personal and financial freedom of consulting. Also known colloquially as "green" consulting, becoming an environmental consultant is a new consulting field that is gaining ground.

    Environmental consulting is a diverse and growing industry. According to a 2008 article by IBISworld,  the environmental consulting industry expected growth in the vicinity of 9.7 percent during that year.

    This growth comes as a result of growing public concern for the environment. Governments and corporations are equally concerned with being perceived as being considerate to the environment–or at least in compliance with environmental regulations.

    Green consulting is diverse and there are a number of sub-niches within environmental consulting:

    • A professional with a scientific or technical background may become an environmental consultant that specializes in geotechnical reports and works directly in the field.
    • A professional with a communications or social science background may become an environmental consultant that specializes in research or public education.
    • A professional with a construction, planning, or architectural background may focus on green building initiatives and become familiar with the the LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) system, which is a "green" building code.

    To determine whether you should become an environmental consultant, consider your background, experience, and your personal inventory of interests, values, and inspirations.

    For tangible tips on how to become an environmental consultant, check out my series of articles and FAQs on how to become a consultant.

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    Advice from Bill Cosby

    I disagree with this, but this still made me laugh out loud:

    "A word to the wise ain’t necessary – it’s the stupid ones that need the advice. "

    - Bill Cosby

    The wise, of course, are already looking for and following good advice!

    Henry Ford failed

    "Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently."

    - Henry Ford

    Known today as a business magnate, philanthropist and social entrepreneur, Henry Ford actually failed several times:

    • He burned through all the money from his first group of investors without producing a car
    • He eventually produced a car and raised another $60,000 in share capital, but his Detroit Auto Company went bankrupt
    • In the 1920s, Henry Ford refused to update the Model T car, leading sales to fall dramatically
    • Ford tried to launch a political career, but never succeeded

    Yet Ford played a tremendous role in shaping car engineering, assembly line production, business, pacificism, social leadership in business, education and other areas.

    But rather than viewing failure as doom, Ford saw it as an indication that improvement was needed. Perhaps that’s how he seized on the opportunity to refine Model T manufacturing, reducing assembly time from 14 hours to about 90 minutes.

    How do you view your failures?

    Become a financial consultant

    Become a financial consultant if you have a financial background and are interested in the benefits of being a consultant.

    In the simplest terms, financial consultants offer advice about financial matters. Most financial consultants have a background in economics and experience working with banks, trust companies, mortgage companies, brokerage firms, mutual funds, or other financial management organizations.

    There are many possible specializations to consider if you decide to become a financial consultant:

    • accounting;
    • insurance;
    • finance law;
    • comprehensive financial planning;
    • retirement planning;
    • pension analysis;
    • bankruptcies;
    • risk management;
    • debt management;
    • investment management;
    • will and estate planning; and
    • cash management.

    Depending on specialization, a financial consultant’s clients may include individuals, families, corporations, trusts, and privately owned firms. When some financial professionals become consultants they specialize in a client group, such as female or retired clients.

    Many financial consultants are accredited or hold membership in relevant organizations, such as being registered financial planners (RFPs), certified financial planner licensees (CFPs), and certified financial consultants (CFCs).

    Financial consulting can be a lucrative career. Find out more about how to set consulting fees here.

    The steps involved in becoming a financial consultant are similar to what is involved in starting most business consultancies. For help starting a financial consulting business, check out this series on how to become a consultant.

    There are many types of business consultants, and becoming a financial consultant is just one option. If you’d like to learn more about your unique skills and are wondering whether to become a financial consultant, consider taking the course Discover Your Inner Consultant.

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    Become a tax consultant

    Become a tax consultant and see your career in a whole new light. One of the many benefits of consulting is the ability to control your schedule and reap your own rewards. Becoming a tax consultant may be just the consulting career you are looking for.

    Tax accountants can range from unaccredited consultants who prepare simple tax returns to in-demand CGAs or CPAs.

    Many tax consultants specify in one area, such as tax compliance, corporate tax issues, estate planning, real estate, in-bound international tax or out-bound international tax.  

    Tax consulting is a field with rigid and complex regulations. In addition, tax consulting is a field that requires a substantial amount of knowledge and training. Whether to become a tax consultant will depend on your own background. If you will require a substantial amount of training or education, it may be worth it to consider becoming another type of consultant.

    If you do have the background but are wondering how to branch out on your own or how to set your consulting fee rates, consider taking my online course or purchasing one of my books.

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    Apply for a line of credit

    Apply for a line of credit before you need it. It can take some time to apply and get a line of credit; if you’re considering doing so, apply for a line of credit now, especially if you’re considering starting a new business.

    A line of credit is a predetermined amount of money that a banking institution sets aside for your use. For example, you may apply for a line of credit from a bank, which grants you a $5000 line of credit. You will gain access to this $5000, but, much like a credit card, you are only charged interest on the amount you use.

    All lines of credit are not equal. Much like everything else in the financial world, rates can vary greatly. While it’s a good idea to start with your own banking institution, do research. Before signing on with a lender, contact a number of banks and lending agencies; compare rates and terms.

    Lines of credit are generally preferable to credit cards because line of credit interest rates are usually lower than credit card interest rates.

    When you apply for a line of credit, you may need:

    • The reason why you want to apply for a line of credit;
    • A list of your assets and liabilities;
    • A letter from your employer, stating how long you’ve been employed and the terms of your employment; and
    • Other personal details.

    The lender will also do a credit check on you. If you are interested in applying for a business line of credit, read this article.

    Applying for credit can be a wise decision when managed responsibly. In fact, one of the top reasons that small businesses fail is a lack of cash flow to get them through lulls in the market or times of redevelopment. Apply for a line of credit today.

    Remember, ConsultantJournal.com and its contributors only provide general information, not advice. Talk to a financial advisor, accountant and lawyer if you need business advice.

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    Are you friends with your clients and vendors?

    I’m a people person. I like people. And I like talking. I don’t like being fake, though, so I tend to be straight up with people. As a result, I find that I connect with a lot of people. Because I run a business, this means that some of my clients and vendors have become close friends over the years. In turn, many of my friends seek me out as a supplier.

    I grew up in a small town and so it seems completely normal to have such blurry boundaries in my life. In a community, people do business with people they trust. If you trust someone, it makes sense that you might sometimes see a friendship emerge. And, if you have friends who need business services, you may sometimes find yourself in a business relationship with those friends. Sure, it makes for some complicated dealings, but it means that there’s some authenticity to the business relationships you have. Why would you treat your clients and vendors any differently than the other people in your life? Trust is at the core of any relationship, whether it’s business or personal.

    Are you friends with your clients or vendors?

    Start thinking about holiday cards

    Even though the holidays are still some time away, it’s never too early to start planning. Holiday cards or Christmas cards can form an important part of your marketing plans. That’s because holiday cards offer you the chance to build on your relationships with customers, prospects, vendors and other contacts. To avoid disappointment, though, you should start thinking about ordering and organizing your holiday card plans now.

    Check out our past posts on holiday cards:

    You might also be interested in Christmas jobs.

     

     

     

    Get a better credit rating

    Get a better credit rating today. Ensuring that your financial house is in order positively affects your personal and business life. So follow these simple steps and get a better credit rating now.

    1. Get to know your credit rating

    Getting a better credit rating starts with becoming familiar with your own credit score. Keep tabs on your credit rating. Request free credit reports annually. Doing so makes you a more informed applicant. It also helps you keep track of changes to your credit over time.

    Check your credit report in detail. There are a surprising number of mistakes and outdated information on credit reports. If you encounter an error, contact the lender involved and ask them to notify the credit bureau with the correction.

    2. Pay your bills on time

    Paying on time is crucial to good credit. Your payment history shows that you have a reliable financial history (or, alternatively, your history can show that you’ve been over-extended or disorganized). Even small infractions such as a late credit card payment can make it difficult to get a better credit rating.

    Above all, from now on, pay all your bills on time.

    If you are in a cash crunch making payments can be difficult. If you are having financial difficulty, contact each lender as soon as possible. Let them know that you are having trouble, and try to negotiate more favourable terms or lower the payment.

    3. Show credit responsibility but reduce unnecessary credit

    Having a few credit cards that are paid off every month actually helps your credit. Make sure that you have at least one or two credit cards that are paid off on time every month. This shows lenders that you keep track of and keep on top of your finances. However, don’t go overboard. Too much credit can be detrimental to your credit rating, even if the balances are paid off.

    Your available credit is calculated by the credit bureaus to determine how much credit you have access to. For example, if you have a credit card with a $5000 limit and the balance is at zero, the credit bureau will still see you as having access to that $5000.

    Balance is key. Show responsibility but reduce unnecessary credit.

    4. Limit the number of hits on your credit

    Every time a lender requests your credit report this "hit" is registered on your credit report. For this reason, in Canada lenders must always ask for your authorization before performing a credit check. The more hits showing that lenders were inquiring about credit can be a red flag to the credit bureau.

    To get better credit don’t allow any more hits to your credit than are absolutely necessary.

    5. Pay down debt by reducing spending or increasing earnings

    If you want to get a better credit rating, chances are you could benefit from reducing your expenses or earning more money.

    Many people get second jobs or become consultants to reduce their debts. Doing so will allow you to pay down more debt and get a better credit rating. When paying down debt, pay your highest interest loans first but continue making minimum payments on your other responsibilities.

    If you’d like to know more about how to become a consultant and reduce your debts, consider the How to Become a Consultant course.

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    Negotiating credit card rates

    Negotiating credit card rates is something that many consultants neglect to consider. However, it is possible to negotiate credit card rates and get your rate lowered.

    Your chances of successfully negotiating a better credit card rate increase if you’ve been a loyal customer and you have an above-average credit rating.

    When negotiating credit card rates, do your homework before you call to negotiate a rate reduction:

    • Know your current credit card rate;
    • Know the rate you could secure if you went with a competitor;
    • Know how long you’ve been a customer; and
    • Know your credit rating.

    When calling, use your leverage. Let the company know that you’re considering canceling the card and going with a competitor. Mention that you are pleased with your current company and you wish they could match or exceed the competitor’s rate.

    Depending on the bank or customer service agent, you may get turned down. If this happens, ask to speak to a supervisor. The supervisor may also respond negatively. Every bank has different policies and procedures when it comes to flexible interest rates.

    If, as a result of your negotiation, you are offered a different card, be sure to read the fine print. Many cards offer an initial low interest rate, but the interest rate spikes after the initial teaser period ends.

    There is no guarantee that attempting to secure a better rate by calling and requesting a lower rate will be successful. However, negotiating credit card rates is certainly worth investigating.

    If you’re operating on credit, it may be wise to consider other options in addition to credit cards.

    As a consultant, you run a business. Don’t hesitate to look into business loan and funding opportunities. Contact your local Chamber of Commerce or business institution to find out more about business loans and grants in your area. In Canada, try contacting the Business Development Bank of Canada for loans or Canada Business for grants or subsidies. In the USA, contact the U.S. Small Business Administration for assistance.

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    Becoming a management consultant

    Becoming a management consultant is just one of many types of consulting opportunities.

    Management consultants help organizations improve their performance. Management consultants are often hired on a per-project basis to identify problems and propose solutions. Corporations and governments seek the advice of an external management consultant because an objective outside opinion is often preferred.

    It is possible to become a certified management consultant (CMC). Certifications are based on standards set by the International Council of Management Consultant Institutes (ICMCI).

    Becoming a management consultant may be an appropriate career choice for you if you are aware of industry best practices and have experience in managerial roles.

    However, there are many types of business consultants, and becoming a management consultant is just one of the many options. If you’re not sure whether management consulting is the business consulting niche for you, consider taking the course, Discover Your Inner Consultant.

    The steps involved in becoming a management consultant are similar to the steps involved in starting most business consultancies. For help starting a management consulting business, check out this series on how to become a consultant.

    Related posts:

     

    Working on retainer

    Working on retainer is a popular way of setting consulting fees. When you’re working on retainer, you’re dealing with a contract that requires your client to pay you a flat rate for a certain amount of time. In turn, you keep that amount of time available for the client, so that they don’t have to worry about you being unavailable for projects.

    Some people set their retainers by the hour or day. Others work with retainers that promise certain deliverables. For example, a freelance writer might be paid a retainer of $1,000 per month, in exchange for writing four articles — with additional articles available at $250 per month.

    With a retainer, the client has the comfort of knowing that the consultant or freelancer will prioritize their work. There’s a promise that the consultant or freelancer will be available for a specific amount of time on a regular basis.

    Retainers usually involve a bit of a discount and prepayment. This gives the client a better rate — but also helps the consultant with managing feast or famine cycles of cash flow.

    Do you work on retainer?

     

    Health insurance for the self employed

    Consider these 8 tips for choosing health insurance when you’re self employed.

    Wow, September got away from me

    I’ve been a bit silent on the blog this month. I took on a couple of big contracts in August, then suffered a setback when I aggravated some injuries…and now I’m in the process of playing catch up.

    The good news is that I’m loving the work I’m doing. And I’m working on some exciting projects — health care publicity for one client and a launch for a software company in stealth mode.

    What are you up to?

    It’s 9-9-9

    Forgive me, but I just noticed that it’s 9-9-9: September 9, 2009. I don’t have anything profound to say about that. I just thought it was really cool. Of course, next year, we’ll have something similar in October. But I suppose the fun all ends in 2013.

    Back to school

    Around here, it’s back to school time. In Canada, we have a stat holiday called Labour Day on the first Monday in September. Here in Vancouver, school usually starts the next day. Of course, some local school districts started a couple of weeks ago, so that they can close up during the Olympics this February.

    It’s never too late to go back to school. And so we’ve reduced the price on our Become a Consultant course. Whether you’re already up and running or just starting to think about consulting, this course can help you find your way on the path to becoming a consultant. It includes a review of your marketing plan — Consultant Journal founder Andrea Coutu is a veteran marketing consultant.

    What do you have planned as part of your lifelong learning this fall?

    Can you befriend competitors?

    When you hear the word "competitor", do you get all warm and fuzzy inside? I didn’t think so. In business and in life, our competitors are the people who contest with us for resources. Most of us have been taught to see competitors as "bad guys".

    You don’t have to see all your competitors as bad guys, though. Over the years, my "competitors" have been a help to me:

    • They have graciously accepted my overflow
    • They have taken on clients who were not a fit for me
    • They have hired me to do work for them
    • They have invited me to take part in joint ventures
    • They have collabored with me on projects
    • They have accepted leads from my business when my personal circumstances (such as a whiplash injury) otherwise left my leads flapping in the wind
    • They have mentioned my company — and linked to my website — on blogs, Facebook, Twitter and other social media sites

    Really, though, I don’t think of most of those "competitors" as "competitors". I think of them as "peers". They’re my company’s professional rivals — heck, they’re my professional rivals. They’re the businesses that push my company to work harder, faster, smarter, better. They’re the people and businesses who make my industry great.

    The bad guys? Those are the people who try to cheat customers. But even those companies aren’t my competitors — because I’m not competing on offer with the kinds of companies that are set up to rip people off.

    Of course, that doesn’t mean I ignore my competitors or that I tell them my business secrets. I’m a professional rival, but I’m not stupid!

    How do you feel about your competitors?

    New lower price – Become a Consultant Course

    We’re celebrating "Back to School" season with a new lower price on our successful Become a Consultant program. Now just $195 US, this course combines the Become a Consultant workbook with exercises, 2.5 hours of audio, discussion forums, two of our most popular guides (Discover Your Inner Consultant and Consulting Fees: A Guide for Independent Consultants), and more.

    If you’ve been toying with signing up for the course, you can’t beat this pricing. In fact, it includes a FREE review of your marketing plan by Andrea Coutu, founder of Consultant Journal and owner of Trustmode Marketing.

    Go back to school with Consultant Journal — kickstart your consulting business with Become a Consultant.

    Become a Consultant course

    What is business?

    What is business? It’s a question I asked when I was about 16 or 17. I lived in a small town where most people had jobs in the natural resources, government, health care, education or retail. "Just what is business?" I asked my parents, upon seeing it listed as a potential major in the university catalogue. No one I asked could really explain. And so I majored in English, a subject I knew and understood.

    For many people, "business" sounds intimidating. (For what it’s worth, business just really means commerce and trade.) If you’re a freelance or consultant, you may feel a bit shy about saying you own a "business". But, really, if you can separate your business from yourself, you may find you’re in a better situation. It’s much easier to make decisions about a business than about yourself. For example, for the first several years I was a consultant, I ran things under my own name. At the time, I  felt that it was my credibility I was putting on the line and that I was what people were buying. And, really, using my own name gave me a lot of mileage in terms of building my reputation and leveraging my contacts. Eventually, I gave my business a name, but that was more to create some personal distance between me and the business. I rarely told anyone about the business name. In mid-2009, I completely rebranded, creating Vancouver marketing consultant company Trustmode Marketing. The new brand and business help to put firm lines around myself and my business.

    Really, as a consultant, if you’re only selling yourself, you’re not in a great position to leverage your investment in your business. That’s because, if you remove yourself from the business, there’s nothing left to sell. So an accident, illness, life change, retirement, vacation or similar situation can have a very real and negative impact on your business. And it’s hard to subcontract and involve other people if your business is simply you.

    How comfortable are you calling what you do "a business"? Do you avoid the term or embrace it? How have you chosen to brand your business?

    Mary Kastle releases new music video

    A couple of years ago, we profiled musician Mary Kastle, as part of showing how our Discover Your Inner Consultant workbook can open your mind to careers you might not have considered "business" or "consulting". Mary Kastle is a Vancouver-based singer, songwriter and musician — and small business owner.

    I’m thrilled to announce that she’s just released a new music video.

    What’s new with your business? Let us know — we’re happy to share your news with readers.

    Small business loan rates

    Small business loan rates vary from institution to institution. If you’re in the market for a small business loan, rates should be of high importance. Shop around and investigate what various lenders have on offer. Ask if there are any ways to improve your rate, such as providing collateral, having someone co-sign, or agreeing to have the lender review certain aspects of your business.

    Be sure to check with local government programs. In some areas, small business programs help entrepreneurs secure loans at special rates, when regular lenders might not even lend money. Of course, you’ll have to meet conditions, which might even include paying for business coaching. Look around and see what the best options are for your business — and your life.

    Related:

    How to turn one-off jobs into lasting client relationships

    How to turn one-off jobs into lasting client relationships is easier than you think. Turning one-off jobs into lasting relationships is, well, all about relationships.

    You’ve probably heard that it’s easier to turn an existing customer into a repeat customer than it is to convert someone who has never bought from you before. Although true, many consultants focus their marketing and networking efforts on new contacts and they forget about their best source of new work–their previous clients.

    Self-employed consultant resources

    Self-employed consultant resources are what we’re all about here at Consultant Journal.

    It’s about time to focus on the self-employment consultant resources that we offer here at Consultant Journal.

    Justifying high rates

    If you follow the media, you’ll sometimes see criticism of the "enormous" amounts spent on consulting fees. The media will gripe about people being paid $150 an hour, $1200 a day or even $30,000 for a month’s work. They act as though these fees are just some sort of patronage payback. Of course, they might be right about the patronage. Politicians do like to pay back their supporters. However, the media are really making a mountain out of a mole hill.

    That’s because consulting fees are really about the value the client receives. It doesn’t matter if you’re paying $5,000 an hour as long as you’re receiving something worth that much. And if you don’t have the in-house resources to do it well, quickly or at all, then you’re better off hiring a consultant.

    For example, I recently struggled with developing a brochure to promote some workshops I’m putting on. I must have spent 10 hours struggling with the thing. Sure, at some point in my career, when I was making $15 an hour, this would have made sense. But now I realize that I would have been better off to get a designer to do it for $150, so that I could avoid the headache and do other value-added stuff for my business…like developing the workshops, which I can’t really outsource. In the end, I asked a designer friend to come to my aid anyway. So I should have just spent the money in the beginning.

    And that’s why it makes sense to pay megabucks for expert advice. It may save you money and help you do other value-added activities that make you money.

    I’ve rebranded my consulting company

    After more than 12 years as a marketing consultant, I’ve made the decision to rebrand my company. Today, I’m pleased to announce the launch of Trustmode Marketing, my Vancouver marketing consultant business.

    Rebranding was a big decision for me. In fact, the decision and the follow-through showed me just how valuable it is for my clients to have an outsider’s view as they go through their marketing decisions. In rebranding on my own, I haven’t had the benefit of that distance, since I’m the one doing all the thinking and the work. Fortunately, I’ve been able to work with some trusted advisors, including designer Odette Hidalgo of Gravity Inc. And I can’t thank my unofficial board of directors enough for all their help in the past few months. My entrepreneurs’ group has also been a big help.

    With the launch of Trustmode Marketing, I’m productizing my services to make them easier for smaller businesses to buy. I’m also putting a focus on principled marketing — I encourage you to visit Trustmode Marketing, my Vancouver marketing consulting company website, for a copy of The Business Case for Marketing Based on Trust.

    The new brand also paints a more accurate picture of where my business is today. My corporate structure includes a team of consultants, including writers, designers, web developers, search engine marketers and other great folks. It no longer makes sense to brand everything under my own name.

    I’ll be sharing more details of my rebrand in the next Consultant Journal newsletter. (Sign up at the above right.) But I hope some of you will also jump on board for my marketing newsletter from Trustmode Marketing. And I also wanted to let you all know that I’ve launched a marketing workshop for September. If you’re looking for a reason to come up to Vancouver, I can make no greater plea! In fact, if you come to Vancouver just for the workshop, let me know and I’ll see if we can grab a coffee together too.

    Thanks for listening. As you can see, running a consulting business is a journey, even for someone with 12 years of experience in the consulting field.

    Cheers,

    Andrea Coutu

    Consulting jobs

    Consulting jobs are enticing for a variety of reasons. Check out the big list of reasons why consulting jobs are rewarding: work from home, set your own hours, benefit from tax write-offs, set your own fees… The list of benefits goes on.

    But once you’ve decided you want to become a consultant, how do you choose which one of the many consulting jobs are for you?

    Why you never want to compete on price

    Setting consulting fees can be tough to navigate when you’re becoming a consultant. There are so many parameters to consider–far more than just what others are charging.

    Here are six reasons why you never want to compete on price:

    Average consulting fee

    Average consulting fees can range anywhere from thirty dollars to thousands of dollars per hour. Understandably, most people who are interested in becoming a consultant want to discover average consulting fee statistics.

    However, in order for average consulting fee data to be useful, it’s important to get specific and compare yourself to others in your industry.

    Consulting fee survey

    Consulting fee surveys are a valuable tool worth reviewing. Not only is it natural to want to know how you compare against others in your industry, but considering your competitors’ rates is also an important part of setting your consulting fee rates.

    When considering setting consulting fee rates, consulting fee surveys are worth looking into. However, they are not blueprints for what to charge as a consultant.

    Computer consulting fee

    Computer consulting fees, like all consulting fees, are affected by a number of factors.

    Because most consultants agree that there is no standard consulting fee that works in all situations, many new computer consultants have difficulty figuring out what they’re “worth.”

    Crunching the numbers

    There are six primary consulting fee models, which include setting consulting rates based on performance, and doubling or even tripling your hourly wage. Some IT consultants combine a number of these models at the same time.

    When determining your computer consulting fee you’ll realize that determining your IT consulting fee is just as much about building value as it is about crunching numbers.

    What are your favourite consulting resources?

    As consultants, we all have favourite sources for helping us with professional growth. In today’s post, we’re opening up the floor for you, so that you can share your favourite professional resources. And, hey, we understand that Consultant Journal may not be your only resource. We’ve got good self esteem. We can handle that.

    How to be like Coca-Cola

    Bruno Coelho sent in a post called Be like Coca-Cola. The article shows you how you can benefit from Coca-Cola’s history — how to go from being great to being seen as great and changing the world.

    Here’s a brief intro to the article from Bruno:

    “You can’t climb the ladder of success with the dress of failure” – Zig Ziglar

    How many times did you feel like everyone didn’t understand how great you are?

    You have the skills, the know-how and the will to win… but you’re not making an impact. And if you’re not making an impact… then no one knows who you are.

    In the past, a great company also had this issue. It had a great product but it wasn’t making an impact. It’s name? Coca-Cola. It’s impact in history? Legendary.

    Let me show you how you can benefit from Coca-Cola’s history, go from being great to be seen as great and change the world!

    Bruno Coelho is a Software Engineer with a 360º vision about the software development world. He believes that having strong technical and business skills is critical to stay relevant in today’s competitive business world. He has published and presented both technical and non-technical articles, covering a wide range of subjects: from security to productivity, from performance to marketing and from XML to persuasion.
    (Incidentally, if you’re looking to improve your credibility, sign up for the Consultant Journal newsletter and get a free report on how to jumpstart your expert status.)

    Standard consulting fee

    There are a number of ways to set consulting fees, and charging standard fees (charging what everyone else charges) is merely one of six primary consulting fee models.

    Indeed, rather than base your rates exclusively on what other consultants are charging, consider what your services are worth. Do you offer standard services, or do you offer more than the rest? Do you offer something unique?

    Understanding standard consulting fees is just part of the process of setting your consulting fee rate.

    Ads on this site

    As you’ve no doubt noticed, this site uses ads. Advertising helps offset the costs of servers, hosting and administration of the site. But do let us know if you ever see an ad that you think we should review. We welcome ads from great advertisers and we’re keen to take a look at anything you think merits further study. (And, for that matter, if you have a fantastic experience with an advertiser, please let them and us know!)

    Happy Canada Day!

    Hey, it’s Canada Day and I’m Canadian, so I’m taking the day off. I encourage you to catch up on some posts from the archives. I’ve included a list of quirky posts that use Canadian spellings, like colour:

    Why you hate cold calls

    Hate cold calls? There’s a reason so many people dislike cold calls.

    How to find prospective clients

    Life would be a lot easier if clients lined up to buy from you. So why not build a pipeline of potential clients and turn them into raving fans?

    How to get testimonials – six tips

    Getting testimonials from clients can help build your expert status. Once you figure out how to get testimonials, you can ramp up your credibility. That’s because, when your prospective clients see the words of others who are happy with your services, they’re more likely to believe in what you have to offer.

    The one thing you should never do with a check

    So you’ve been consulting for a while and a big check rolls in. Ka-ching! You’re set.

    But there’s one thing you should never, ever do with a check.

    What’s your biggest marketing challenge?

    What’s your biggest marketing challenge, as a small business owner? What marketing obstacles frustrate you? Share your thoughts here. Let’s come together as a community to talk through our challenges…and work on them together.

    Your best source of new work

    Believe it or not, your best source of new work is something you already have. And if you mine this existing resource, you’ll be on the road to success. In fact, most successful consultants turn to this marketing goldmine to keep their busy practices growing.

    New site – what do you think?

    The new Consultant Journal design is finally up. Please feel free to send along your comments. We’re hoping this new design preserves the grassroots feel of Consultant Journal while giving a more professional face. It also features a more flexible layout for advertisers. And it’s now backed by WordPress, which should improve content management. You should also have an easier time finding our workbooks and guides.

    If you have any questions — or if you run into any bugs — please let us know. We welcome feedback.

    How commenting on blogs markets your business

    Did you know that commenting on blogs is a marketing strategy? Leaving comments on blog posts such as this one is a tool employed by many consultants to drive traffic and attention to their websites.

    How does it work?

    By leaving useful, engaging comments readers are encouraged to click on your link to find out more about you. And from a search engine optimization perspective, links on other websites that point to your website are a good thing.

    Imagine that you’re a copywriting consultant. You come across a post on a professional writer’s blog that discusses the lack of good copywriting these days. You can chime in with some useful, funny commentary that positions you as an expert. For example, you could mention that you’re a professional copywriting consultant and you’re amazed at some of the copy that you’re hired to rewrite. You could share a few funny grammatical mistakes that you’ve caught, and you can sign your name and leave a link to your website.

    You’ve just shared a funny story, positioned yourself as an expert and there’s no doubt that a few readers have clicked on your website link to find out more about you.

    The key is to leave useful and engaging comments on blogs that are relevant to your niche.

    A few tips to remember:

    • Make sure your comments are related to the post;
    • The most effective blog comments are detailed, engaging, humorous, and helpful;
    • Recent blog posts get more readers, in general, than old archived blog posts; and
    • Do not write off-topic and obviously promotional comments.

    Related Posts:

    When to subcontract – seven signs

    When to subcontract - seven signs that it’s time

    When you become a consultant, you become more than a consultant. You’re becoming a business owner. That means you wear several hats. As time goes on, it may not make sense to wear every hat. Here’s how to tell when it’s time to outsource.

    1. You don’t like doing the work. If you really dislike a particular task, freeing yourself from the obligation may have a pay off. Taking the weight off your shoulders allows you to focus on areas of strength and passion — which may leave you with more energy to build up your business.
    2. You don’t have time. If you don’t have time to do everything that needs doing, it’s time to enlist help. Of course, before you start outsourcing, you need to consider just what needs to be outsourced.
    3. You could make more money doing something else. By outsourcing lower value tasks to someone who earns less than you do, you can focus on higher paying activities.
    4. You don’t have the skills. Faced with a steep learning curve, you may find it’s easier and more effective to hire someone who can hit the ground running.
    5. You want a fresh perspective. By working with another experienced professional, you can gain insights from unbiased eyes.
    6. You need a break. Sometimes, it makes sense to outsource your work while you take a vacation, a breather or just some time to refocus.
    7. You need to put resources elsewhere. Even if it’s cheaper to do a job yourself, you may need to focus your skills and talents elsewhere. It’s important to figure out just where you add the most value in your business.

    Once you’ve started a consulting business and established your fees, it’s important to look at how you add value to other businesses…and then how you can use other consultants and freelancers to add value to your business. After all, the reasons other people hire you are the same reasons you’d hire someone else.

    Feel lonely? Here’s help.

    As consultants, we often work alone out of our home offices. This can mean hours alone with our thoughts. At times, being a consultant can be a lonely career! But it doesn’t have to be.

    Here are seven tips to help you avoid loneliness.

    1. Networking

    Networking can be fun, even for introverts! Join business and entrepreneurs’ groups. Plan to attend networking functions far in advance, regardless of your busy schedule.

    The trick is to make time for networking even when your schedule is tight. Meaningful social interaction is key to battling loneliness.

    2. Get out of the house!

    Feeling lonely? Take a break. Take a walk. Go to the bookstore, the library or a coffee shop. But don’t bring your laptop or a book. Instead, engage with the people around you. Make eye contact and strike up a conversation. Your need for social interaction will be met, and you never where or when you’ll meet your next big client!

    3. Work somewhere social

    Take your laptop and headphones with you and head to your favourite coffee shop. Sometimes all it takes is a change of venue to lift your spirits.

    4. Collaborate and connect

    Connect with other consultants in your field. Invite a peer for lunch, coffee or a walk. You may find that you have a lot in common.

    If loneliness is an ongoing problem, perhaps you can explore partnership possibilities that could see you collaborating with your peer on a long-term basis.

    5. Take a short-term contract

    If you’re missing the social benefits of an office environment, consider accepting a short-term contract that will require you to spend days in the company’s office. 

    6. Rent office space

    Consider renting shared office space. Investigate whether there are any common workspaces in your city.

    7. Stay in touch with friends and family

    As passionate entrepreneurs, we can get wrapped up in our business’ success. Sometimes that can mean leaving our friends and family out in the cold. Don’t do it!

    Even during your busy season, schedule time with friends and family. Business success is important, but it shouldn’t come at the expense of the people you love. A healthy lifestyle leaves room for both!

    Looking for more tips? Check out tips for dealing with home office isolation

     

    Related Posts:

    Use a blog to build your consulting business

    Use a blog to build your consulting business. Sound crazy? It isn’t!

    It’s difficult, if not impossible, to accurately determine how many blogs are out there. Suffice it to say there at least a hundred million of them! So am I crazy to suggest that you add to the blog frenzy? Well, perhaps.

    But what I do know is that there are five key ways that blogs can build your consulting business, and I’ve experienced these benefits first hand.

    1. Build your expert status

    When you take the time to blog about your consulting business, you’re showing clients and potential clients that you’re an expert. You’re demonstrating that you know what you’re doing and why you’re doing it.

    When you blog about your consulting business, you’re showing your readers that you’re so passionate about your field that you’re brimming with ideas and commentary. Your blog is your platform to impress and share your passion about your business.

    2. Increase your search engine results

    New, fresh content on your blog or website is what the search engines are after. When you update and add to your blog or website, you’re giving the search engines more new data to index.

    When you write about topics and keywords that are relevant to your niche, you increase the likelihood of your potential clients being directed to you by the search engines.

    3. Foster a sense of community

    Frequent and regularly updated blogs will eventually have a following of readers. When you encourage readers to comment on your blog posts and share their thoughts and opinions, a blogging community takes shape. Readers will feel connected to you and your business in a personal way, which is good for business.

    4. Encourage you to stay on top of trends

    Writing a blog about your consulting business can serve as a good motivator for you to stay on top of trends. When you’re busy running your business, it can be easy to keep on doing what you have been doing instead of staying on the cutting edge.

    Using a blog as an excuse to keep up with trends can be a great motivator.

    5. Keep readers, clients and potential clients coming back for more

    New, regularly updated content will keep visitors coming back to see what’s new! Static pages just don’t boast that benefit.

    Get blogging and use your blog to build your consulting business!

    Related Posts:

    Should you discount for non-profits?

    Should you cut your fees for worthy non-profit associations? One of Consultant Journal’s readers, Walela, recently commented on the consulting fees post:

    This is my first consultant opportunity: to consult with a  non-profit that received a grant for a teen mentoring program. Are the fee formulas mentioned on the site applicable to non-profits  as well? I want to be sensitive to their financial situation, but not give away my services either.
     

    I don’t agree with discounting rates for non-profits. You’re not a charity – the non-profit is. I suppose I stopped discounting my rates for non-profits when I realized many of them advocate against exploitation, undervaluing of people and so on, but they still pay their employees and contractors poverty-level rates. However, there are times when I can see that a project is especially interesting or worthy, for reasons related to your business or personal values. I see a few ways to look at this:

    • Volunteer. If the opportunity is so good, volunteer without hesitation. Give freely.
    • Quote at your full rate and donate back the amount at which you would have discounted your fees. You can even state this in the proposal. This gets the non-profit to better value the work you provide and it has the same financial result for them.
    • Re-calculate your consulting fees. In the consulting fees model, would your full-time salary at a non-profit be the same as in the business world? It’s worth considering.
    • Charge a fair rate, with consideration for in-kind benefits. See if there’s a way to negotiate benefits for your business, such as having your name printed on materials, being mentioned in press releases, receiving links from their website, getting attention in their newsletter and so on. If you set this up and truly value that exposure, you’re not actually discounting.

    I’m sure a few readers will say that I’m being unkind to charities. I’m not. I just question why I should act like a charity when asked to work with a charity. It might be a little different if I truly value and embrace the charity. But I don’t think all charities merit discounts.

     

    8 reasons to write guest posts for blogs

    Have you considered writing guest posts for other blogs in your niche?

    Here are 8 reasons to write guest posts for blogs that don’t belong to you:

    1. Build your expert status

    Writing a guest post at another blog is a tangible way to increase your expert status. By writing a guest post about your niche, you’re positioning yourself as an expert in the field, and readers will see you as such.

    2. Gain backlinks pointing to your website

    When writing a guest post for another blog, be sure to include links within your guest blog post that point to your own website, portfolio or blog. This is an effective way to drive more traffic to your site and increase your ranking in the eyes of search engines.

    3. Grow online partnerships

    When you contact a blog about writing a guest post for them, you’re beginning a dialogue with another person in your niche. These relationships can sometimes grow into lucrative and mutually-beneficial partnerships.

    When you’re in the same niche, sometimes there can be worries of competition. But when the cards are played right potential competitors can both grow their businesses by leveraging each others’ skills and resources.

    4. Increase your sphere of influence

    When you write a guest post for another blog, you’re tapping into blog readers that may not even know about you, your website or your blog.

    Guest blogging can be an efficient way to tap into an already existing market and draw those readers over to your blog or website.

    5. Free advertising

    Free advertising. Need I say more? The more relevant blogs you write for the more readers will come across your name and your business.

    6. Fun

    If you enjoy reflecting on your successes, guest blogging can be an enjoyable experience that has a high return on investment.

    7. Share your knowledge

    The most successful guest blog posts share information of perceived value. Guest blog posts can be a useful place to toot your own horn, but readers will respect you even more if you also share valuable, timely information that’s of use to the readers.

    Got  insider tips? Share them with the blogosphere, and you’ll be sure to gain credibility, respect and increased expert status.

    8. Increase your earnings

    What happens when you boost your expert status, take advantage of free marketing, increase your sphere of influence and you partner with others in your niche? Your earnings have nowhere to go but up!

    Are you convinced? Why not give it a try?

    I’d be happy to welcome you to write a guest post here at Consultant Journal. The first step is to make the leap and get in touch.

    Related Posts:

    How writing articles can help your business

    Writing articles can help your business by jump-starting your expert status, offering free advertising and building backlinks to your website.

    The first step is to identify a publication related to your niche that may accept your contribution. There are many magazines, journals, trade publications, websites and blogs that would be glad to publish your article. In fact, I’d be happy to welcome your article here at Consultant Journal; I’d love to hear from you if you’re interested in writing articles for Consultant Journal.

    Writing articles helps boost your expert status, which benefits you in two ways–adding to your resume and exposing your expertise to a larger market:

    1. Once you are published, be sure to use your full name, your business name and make reference to your article on your website and anywhere else that’s applicable. This boosts your credibility with potential clients.

    2. In addition, when you are published, readers who are unfamiliar with you will come across your article, which includes your name, your business name and your website address.

    If you’re writing for an online magazine, website or blog, be sure to capitalize on the opportunity by requesting a link back to your website or portfolio. The more links pointing to your website the better. These links drive traffic to your site, and they can be helpful when search engines rank your website against your competitors.

    Writing an article may be easier than you think. You know your business inside and out. You’ve got the skills, experience and expertise. So contact a potential publisher–be it on the web or in print–and see whether you can write a short article that boosts your expert status.

    Are you a consultant? Why not start by writing here at Consultant Journal?

    For more tips on building your expert status, be sure to subscribe (above, on the right) to the newsletter for a free article with tips on how to jump-start your expert status.

    Or if you’re looking for a step-by-step guide explaining how to run your own consulting firm and how to build your expert status, consider taking my course, Become a Consultant – How to make the Leap.

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    Buying a netbook – 7 tips

    Buying a netbook? Then you could use these seven tips that will help you choose the right netbook.

    1. Netbooks explained

    Do you really want a netbook or should you be buying a laptop or desktop computer instead? A netbook is a small, lightweight portable computer used primarily for browsing the Internet.

    Netbooks generally boast smaller screens and keyboards than regular notebook or laptop computers. Most consultants use netbooks as secondary computers rather than as primary computers. Before buying a netbook, make sure that a netbook suits your needs.

    2. Budget

    Buying a netbook is an attractive option because netbooks can be inexpensive when compared to other computers. When considering which netbook to purchase, consider what you’re going to use it for. Like most products, the cheapest netbook may not be the best bet for your needs. Balance your budget with your wants and needs when it comes to your new netbook.

    3. Test drive your netbook’s size

    If you’re accustomed to a regular laptop, be sure to try out a netbook before you buy one. Small netbooks can be cute, but some netbooks’ small screens and reduced-sized keyboards can drive users crazy.

    Test one out to determine how small a screen you can handle.

    4. Memory capacity

    How much memory will you need? Be sure to consider how much memory your new netbook comes with. Will it be possible to add more memory at a later date?

    5. Battery life

    Compare battery life when making your decision. Many buyers end up using their netbooks as portable media centres; while traveling or waiting for a flight, netbooks are handy companions so paying more for a six-cell battery may be a good idea. 

    6. Where to buy

    Today many of us do our shopping online. But some consultants are wary of buying computers online. What if something goes wrong? What about warrantees? Consider warrantees, maintenance issues and IT support when choosing what and where to buy. Remember, as a consultant you may not have an IT support team to turn to when things go wrong.

    7. Do your research!

    Before splurging on your favourite model, spend a few minutes researching the product online. What are customers saying? What do people love about it? What is the most common complaint with the product? 

    Keep these seven tips in mind when buying your netbook, and you’ll end up with a netbook that suits your needs as a consultant. 

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    Start your own consulting business

    Start your own consulting business! So you’d like to start your own consulting business; what an exciting time this must be for you. Congratulations on considering becoming an entrepreneur and wanting to find out how to get started running your own consulting firm.

    Steps involved in learning how to start your own consulting business

    1. Choose what type of consulting business you’d like to start.
    2. Familiarize yourself with what it takes to run this type of business. Will you enjoy it? Do you have the necessary skills? Will the business make money?
    3. Contact consultants working in this field. Do research.
    4. Develop a business plan.
    5. Start your own consulting business!

    Start your own consulting business now

    Getting your own consulting business up and running can be as simple or as complex as you want it to be.

    When thinking about how to start your own consulting business, consider the following rule of thumb. The amount of time it takes to start your own consulting firm should reflect what you expect to get out of it.

    • Some entrepreneurs start by consulting as a side-job. As a result, many moonlighters figure out how to run their businesses as their business grows.
    • Other entrepreneurs take even bigger leaps requiring financial investment and big risk. When this is the case, entrepreneurs should do substantial research and planning before launching the consulting business.

    There are many more resources here at this site that will help you start your own consulting business. By the way, if you’d like a mentor in your journey, consider registering for Become a Consultant: How to Make the Leap.

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    How to start your own consulting business

    How to start your own consulting business can be overwhelming. But figuring out how to start your own consulting business is easy if you take it one step at a time. If you need to know how to get started running your own business, you’ve come to the right place!

    Before wondering how to start your own consulting business…

    Before wondering how to start your own consulting business, it’s important to consider whether you are a good candidate for becoming a consultant.

    Odds are that you are well-suited to running your own business, but why not compare how you stack up when it comes to qualities common to successful consultants?

    Few people possess all the qualities of a perfect entrepreneur. If you lack skill in an area, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you should abandon your dream of running your own consulting firm.

    No, instead, it’s important to identify your weaknesses–and then address them. For example, for those who lack organization skills, it may be a good idea to consider hiring your own consultant, such as a virtual assistant, to help keep you organized.

    Resources explaining how to start your own consulting business

    If you’re still wondering how to start your own consulting business, take a look at my how to become a consultant series. Or if you’re looking for a step-by-step guide explaining how to get started running your own consulting firm, consider taking my course, Become a Consultant – How to make the Leap.

    Congratulations on starting your journey towards entrepreneurship!

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    How do I become a consultant?

    How do I become a consultant? As a new entrepreneur, it’s common to wonder, "How do I become a consultant?" I have written many posts to help you become a freelance consultant, but don’t forget to ask for input from working consultants in your field and community.

    How do I become a consultant – First steps

    In this digital age, sometimes there’s a tendency to ignore the old-fashioned ways of getting answers to our questions. A smart way to find out how to become a successful consultant is by asking people you know (or who live in your community), "How do I become a consultant?"

    For example, if you’re considering becoming a grant writing consultant, try locating someone in your area who works in this field as a consultant. Doing this can be helpful on two fronts:

    1.  Trying to find a grant writing consultant will give you ideas about advertising. Were there any consultants advertised in the phone book? Was it difficult to find a grant writing consultant? 
    2. Most working consultants remember what it was like to get started from the ground up. Most would be pleased to offer you a little advice and guidance about setting up your consulting business. You don’t have to view successful consultants as your competion. They are working professionals who’ve been able to make their businesses work. Don’t you want to know how they did it?

    How do I become a consultant – Key reminders

    "How do I become a consultant?" When looking for answers to this question, it’s best to diversify your tactics. In other words, read books, do online research, and interact with working professionals.

    So the next time you find yourself wondering how to become a working consultant, remember that there are a number of resources that exist to help!

    By the way, if you’d like a mentor in your journey, consider registering for Become a Consultant: How to Make the Leap.

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    Trust – the launching point for your business

    As a follow up to the last post on trust as the key to your business success, here’s a great piece on leveraging trust so that you can make the leap to entrepreneurship. Is analysis paralysis keeping you from maximizing opportunities?

    It’s easy to get caught up in planning and analysis. After all, we’re overwhelmed with messages about putting together solid business plans so that you can build a solid business. But sometimes, you just need to make the leap. You just need to trust that things are going to work out. It makes sense to have a plan, but you can’t expect perfection from that plan. At a certain point, you need to trust in the preparations you’ve done and in your own ability to move forward.

    Of course, it’s okay to ask for help in your journey. If you’re looking for mentorship, take a look at Become a Consultant: How to Make the Leap.

    Trust – the key to your success

    Trust — it’s the key to success in business. If people don’t trust you, they won’t believe you. If they don’t believe you, they won’t buy. If they don’t trust you after they buy, they will experience buyer’s remorse. They won’t buy from you again. They won’t promote your products and services to their trusted contacts.

    But how do you build trust? For consultants, it starts with building your expert status. But it’s more than that. You need to build trust into every step of your relationship with your prospective customers, customers, vendors, suppliers, contractors, employees and community. After all, if you want to charge consulting fees that reflect the value you provide, you have to have customers who trust you enough to believe in that value.

    What steps have you taken to build trust into your business operations?

    Get six tips for jumpstarting your expert status when you sign up for our newsletter — above, top right.

    Ready to make the leap to consulting? Build your business with Become a Consultant: How to Make the Leap — whether you’re just thinking about consulting or stalled in succeeding with your current business.

    Build your business: Avoid the send button

    There will come a point where you and a client won’t see eye to eye, no matter how well intentioned you are.

    Clashes with clients

    If you’re finding yourself about to respond to an email that rubs you the wrong way, consider holding off for at least 24 hours.

    While it may be tempting to dash off an email right away because you’d like to deal with it promptly or because you feel empassioned in the heat of the moment, hold off for 24 hours. Do write a draft email, but don’t send it until the next day.

    Re-reading the original email again the next day may not provoke the same reaction in you, and chances are you’ll be relieved that you didn’t send your response from the night before.   

    Making mistakes

    The same principle applies to an email that discusses a mistake that you made or an embarrasing oversight that you missed.

    When faced with your mistake, don’t overreact and over-compensate. For example, if a client emails to let you know that you’ve overlooked a major part of the project, you may feel embarrased and promise them a complete revision free of charge to make up for it.

    But I guarantee that you’ll be kicking yourself for agreeing to do work for free to make up for your embarrasment. Once the initial sting is over, you’ll realize that everyone makes mistakes and there’s no need to promise the moon as a result. Admit your mistake and rectify it, but don’t overreact.

    It’s wise to set a policy for yourself that emails don’t always need to be responded to right away–especially if they’re sensitive issues.  

    Managing client behaviour is one of the most complex parts of consulting. The good news is that you’ll learn best practices along the way, and your list of happy clients will keep growing.

    Adding value

    The principle of wait-before-you-send applies to good news emails, too. Before sending an email, consider how you can revise your message to add value to your client. Can you suggest further improvements to the project? How about a second phase of the project that expands on the first phase? Like any written project, a delay and a second edit always improve the message.

    Starting a consulting business

    Starting a consulting business can be one of the most exciting times of your life. But starting a consulting business can also be a stressful time. When you start launching your own business, you are taking a leap of faith.

    Considering starting a consulting business?

    There are many reasons why you might want to be starting a consulting business. Maybe you’d like to set your own schedule, work from home, or spend more time with your family. Or maybe you’ve always dreamt of starting a consulting business, and you’re finally considering taking the next step.

    Whatever the case may be, congratulations! Just being here at this site means that you’re getting serious about beginning your career in consulting.

    When I talk to people who are considering starting a consulting business they are often so excited that they get me excited too! But while these are exciting times, launching a consulting business is serious, especially when you’re investing time and money into the endeavour.

    In order to ensure success, it’s best to start your consulting business armed with as much information as possible.

    Starting a consulting business the right way means doing research

    In order to give your business the best chance to succeed, I recommend doing as much reading and research as possible. Luckily, you’ve find the right spot to find out all about how to become a consultant!

    I am a consultant. It’s what I do. But I’m also a people person, and I enjoy helping others succeed. In fact, that’s the motivation behind this blog.

    I’ve written over 1100 posts on this blog to help people like you get started on the road to entrepreneurship. While I believe that I’ve covered almost every topic I can think of, I encourage you to look around the web and see what else is out there on the topic of starting your own consulting business.

    But before you go, I encourage you to bookmark this site and subscribe to the mailing list (above left). And have you considered ordering one of my workbooks: Discover Your Inner Consultant or Discover Your Inner Entrepreneur (For Moms)?

    As you grow in your journey towards starting your business, you’ll find that questions will arise. Feel free to come back often, use the search box (below, left) and ask questions.  

    Once again, congratulations on your journey towards consulting!

    By the way, if you’d like a mentor in your journey, consider registering for Become a Consultant: How to Make the Leap.

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    12 ways to pump your ego

    At times, consulting can be a lonely business. Loneliness can hit home when you have something to celebrate but you don’t have co-workers to pat you on the back! Now and then, it’s important to pause and reflect on your successes. Here are 12 ways to pump your ego.  

    1. Make a list of your top 8 projects or achievements.

    2. Remind yourself why you started consulting in the first place. And while you’re at it, take advantage of your favourite feature of consulting.

    3. Schedule a motivational session with another consultant (or a friend in a similar field). Get together over dinner and discuss your top projects and favourite memories from the past year.

    4. Make a list of your top five skills. What are you best at? When do you feel like you’re "in your element?"

    5. Keep a folder detailing praise, awards, testimonials, and recognition. Have a look though it on occasion. Reflect about how far you’ve come and what people have said about you and your work.

    6. After reflecting on your successes, consider some fun and exciting goals that you’d like to achieve over the next year. Make another list detailing how you’re going to achieve these goals and why you’re capable of making them happen. 

    7. On your website, rewrite your biography, byline, or "about" page–touching on your top achievements.

    8. Try to remember a project that made you feel overwhelmed or inexperienced. Contrast those feelings against how you’d feel tackling that project today.

    9. Pitch a story about your business to a local magazine or newspaper. Don’t be shy! 

    10. Buy something extravagant because you can afford it.

    11. Consider what your business would be like if you just stopped doing everything that you do. Consider the many hats you wear. Consider how important you are. Without you, your business would be non-existant.

    12. Write a press release detailing your business’ achievements and submit it to local and online media.

    It’s great to pump your ego when you’ve got something to celebrate.

    Bit if you’re ever feeling down or depressed, remind yourself of your top achievements and you’ll be sure to get your motivation back.  

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    5 age-old ways to grow your business

    Consultants are always thinking about growing their businesses. In fact, even when they’re completely booked up, consultants still focus on generating more leads. 

    Here are 5 age-old ways to grow your business as a consultant:

    1. Networking: There’s no better way to grow your business than to get out and network. Networking can be structured, attending a Chamber meet and greet for example, or it can be impromptu, striking up a conversation with someone next to you in line at a coffee shop for example. If you’re a new consultant, networking is definitely where you want to spend your time so that you can build your sphere of influence.

    2. Never Stop Marketing: When you run your own business, marketing and promotions are a constant fact of life. No matter how busy you are, it’s important to nurture your existing relationships and look for new prospects. Ask yourself, "What have I done today toward getting new clients?"

    3. Online Promotions: Of course, online promotions usually start with a website, but having a website is just the tip of the iceberg. Check out these five ways to promote your business online.

    4. Referrals: It’s easy to get wrapped up in trying to find new clients, but turning clients into repeat customers is one of the smartest things you can do for your business. Treat your clients well and make sure they’re happy with your work. Your clients will want to work with you again–and they’ll refer their friends and contacts to you. Be open and honest about the fact that you’d love your client to refer new prospects your way. 

    5. Always Re-Assess: When launching a business, you should put together a business plan and forecast your income. In addition, it’s a smart idea to re-assess your business practices on an annual or semi-annual basis. How has business been? What are your strengths and what are your weaknesses? Would you benefit from a mentor?

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    Start a consulting business

    Start a consulting business; it sounds so easy, doesn’t it? In many ways, it is easy to start a consulting business! The trick is to make sure that you’re well-suited to the type of business that you choose to run.

    I want to start a consulting business, but…

    Some of you might be entrepreneurial-minded, but aren’t sure what type of business to start. There are a number of consulting businesses to consider starting. Take a look at this list and note which ideas appeal to you. Do you think you’d like to start a consulting business in any of these fields? If none of these appeal to you, is there another type of consulting firm you’d like to run?

    In order to start a consulting business, you’ve got to have the skills

    The next step in choosing and launching your business is to make sure that you’re well suited to your chosen line of work. For example, you may love Avon products, but unless you are a confident and outgoing salesperson, you may have trouble making sales–regardless of how much you love the products.

    Sometimes it can be difficult to know what type of consulting will be a good fit for you. If this is the case, it can be helpful to take an inventory of your experience and skills. Being aware of your skills can be a substantial help when deciding to start a new business from the ground up.

    In order to start a consulting business, you have to be able to sell a service or product that is in demand by people who need that service or product.  While you do have to be knowledgeable and well-suited to the business that you choose to start, you don’t have to be a renowned "expert" in your chosen field. As long as you sell a service or product that is needed by those in your target market, you’ll have a shot at success.

    Once you’ve settled on your idea and written a business plan, you’ll be ready to launch a new consulting firm!

    Want help in making the transition to consulting? Enroll in the official Consultant Journal course – Become a Consultant: How to Make the Leap. With audio and written lessons, 25 exercises, discussion forums and more, you’ll have mentorship in your journey to consulting.

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    Why procrastinate tomorrow?

    When you think of procrastination, you may think of putting off small tasks or projects. But over the years I’ve noticed that many people procrastinate big ideas, such as acheiving their career-related dreams.

    Putting off your dreams

    I’ve been a consultant for over ten years, and I’ve met many people who want to launch their own consulting firms. But while some people actually become consultants, there are others who simply dream of doing it but never actually make the leap.

    So what sets the doers apart from the dreamers? There are many factors, such as financial savings and confidence. But a big factor that separates the dreamers from the doers is that the doers "do!" In fact, I’ve helped many dreamers become doers through my course, Become a Consultant: How to Make the Leap

    How procrastination hurts

    There is a substantial difference between procrastinating and working toward a goal, even if you work towards your goal at a slow pace.

    Tax software debate

    Every year around this time, my post on tax software, specifically UFile and Quicktax, gets a lot of attention. The opinions are those of the posters. I have never tried UFile and I’ve always been fairly happy with Quicktax, although I’m probably going to work with a professional accountant this year, since I’m looking to incorporate.

    Update: Oops. I originally wrote debata. I was thinking about data.

    Getting a business credit card

    Getting a business credit card is just another step in the process of becoming a consultant.

    Financial institutions are becoming increasingly accustomed to offering financial products to consultants. But if you’re considering getting a business credit card, it’s simplest to apply for credit cards or lines of credit before making the leap into consulting full-time.

    If you no longer have an employer, don’t worry. It’s still possible to get a business credit card as a consultant, although the application process may be a little more thorough.

    As with any financial product, your credit rating is important. If you’re considering getting a credit card for business, obtain a free copy of your credit report to see where you stand.

    If your credit report shows areas where you can improve, take action to improve your rating. Besides, it’s wise to get your financial house in order no matter what your plans.

    Once you’ve been approved for a business credit card, make sure to keep on top of payments. Try to pay everything off at the end of the month. If that’s not possible, be sure to pay down your high interest loans and cards first.  

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    How to start a consulting firm

    How to start a consulting firm is a crucial concept that all new entrepreneurs should familiarize themselves with. But don’